‘How could dog walker do this to Dappy?’

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A DOG needed 20 stitches to a six-inch cut to its neck after he was slashed and kicked by a man at a popular walking spot.

Mum-of-four Nicola Bunney was walking her 11-month-old Labrador cross Dappy on the Town Moor, on Hartlepool’s Headland, when he was first kicked in the back leg and then slashed in the neck by a man who was walking a Yorkshire terrier.

Nicola said they had not been out long when the attack happened after playful Dappy spotted the terrier and ran over.

But the walk turned to horror when the man kicked Dappy and then bent over the dog and is believed to have slashed him and left him needing surgery.

Nicola, 38, said that when the attack happened she was running towards them and from 150ft she heard Dappy make a loud yelp, although she did not immediately realise how serious his injury was.

An argument then broke out before Nicola was threatened by the man who said: “If you or your dog come near me again you are going to get worse.”

Terrified Nicola ran to her sister’s home nearby where she hugged Dappy and found herself covered in blood.

“When I saw the blood I looked where it was coming from and there was a gash on his neck,” she said. “When it was measured by the vet it was six-and-a-half inches.

“The vet said by the look of it he had been cut by something with a serrated edge because of the way the skin had come away from his neck.

“I think he has purposely bent over and slashed him with something. He kicked him to the back leg so if it was his foot that caused it, it would have been there and not his neck.”

Grandmother-of-one Nicola, who works as a receptionist, reported the attack to police and took Dappy to the PDSA animal hospital, in Middlesbrough.

The vet who stitched up Dappy said the cut could have been caused by an object like a serrated knife, a sharp piece of wood or a cork screw.

“I’m terrified that it could happen to another dog,” she said. “Dappy was lucky it didn’t hit a vital artery.

“He is now scared to go out and if I head towards the Town Moor he gets petrified and won’t move.”

Nicola said she has had amazing support from people since the attack. She posted a picture of Dappy on her Facebook page that attracted 135 comments in a matter of hours and 60 inbox messages.

She said people were offering to buy things for Dappy to make him feel better. But Nicola, who lives on the Headland, said she just asked people to support the PDSA becuse they had provided such good care.

The attack happened on Sunday between 5.30pm and 6pm and Dappy is still making daily visits to the PDSA for medication and to have his dressing changed.

A spokeswoman for Hartlepool Police said: “The incident has been reported to us and investigations are continuing.”

Anyone with information is urged to call the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.