I’d always loved dogs but in the blink of an eye, everything changed…
By Kayleigh Rooney, 22, from Liverpool
Dog-lover Kayleigh Rooney needed 190 stitches to her face after being savagely attacked by a Japanese Akita.
The horrifying incident happened in November 2009 when her friend’s dog Chunk suddenly turned on her after she knelt down to pat him.
Kayleigh said: “I was just 15 at the time. It all happened in slow motion. The thing last I remember was seeing Chunk’s huge jaws launching at me and thinking there was nothing I could do to stop him.”
The nine stone brute knocked the 22-year-old from Liverpool unconscious. When she came to, the beast had sunk his giant fangs into her cheeks and was shaking her head furiously from side to side like a rag doll.
She explained: “I was terrified. I knew I couldn’t pull against his force or he’d rip my face off entirely. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he released me from his grip and I fell to the floor, blood gushing from my face. My friend’s family rushed me to hospital where we were met by my parents. My nose was hanging off, my top lip had been chewed apart and there was a gaping hole in my cheek. I felt like I had been eaten alive.”
Doctors were shocked by Kayleigh’s injuries and rushed her to theatre where they tried to piece together what was left of her face. She required 190 stitches and 80 dissolvable internal ones.
She said: “My face was covered in scars and stitches. It was as if I’d stepped out of the set of a horror film. It was two weeks before I could smile again, not that I had much to smile about. At school, bullies called me The Joker because of my scarred smile. The nickname stuck for years and I was 17 before the regular hospital trips came to an end. It was a long a recovery.”
But determined not to let the attack destroy her life, brave Kayleigh got herself a little shih tzu called Sid and followed her dream by studying animal handling. In 2012, she even became a dog groomer.
She said: “I refuse to demonise all dogs. I love them and feel lucky that I get to spend all day with them for a living. I have the best job in the world. My proudest moment was the first day I worked with an akita. I might have been a little nervous but I had nothing to worry about. He was a gentle giant.
“Thankfully my scars have faded and I have moved on.”
Despite the attack, Chunk was never put down and his owners weren’t prosecuted because the attack happened on their private property.
Kayleigh added: “I would never blame the dog but I just hope he doesn’t lash out again. His next victim might not be so lucky.”
Despite what happened to Kayleigh, she refuses to demonise all dogs and even works with them in her job as a groomer. However, she wanted to raise awareness of remaining safe around dogs so we helped Kayleigh sell her story to Pick Me Up magazine and The People newspaper. If you want to share your story to highlight an issue close to your heart, complete the form on the right and our team will ring you to explain the process.