A woman who is scarred for life after being savagely attacked by a dog two years ago has backed a campaign to make it easier for victims like her to claim compensation.
Kerry Stevens, newspaper sales representative for the Eastbourne and Hailsham Heralds, was bitten on the thigh by a Pitbull cross American Bulldog as she delivered a parcel in Eastbourne, in October 2014.
The 44-year-old has not received a single penny in compensation following the attack, as the couple looking after the dog at the time were not its official owners and the animal was not used to deliberately attack her.
“When I found out I would not get any compensation, I was absolutely disgusted. I felt cheated, angry, disappointed and generally let down,” Kerry said.
“I have been left physically and emotionally scarred by this. I can’t wear the clothes I used to wear, I can’t stand up for too long otherwise my leg gets swollen, I can’t go swimming for fear people will be disgusted by my scar.
“I have muscle damage to my leg where the dog ripped out the muscle, and there are some parts of my leg I can no longer feel. I have had six operations, with more to come, and I have to take time off work after each surgery.”
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), a national not-for-profit group which works to improve the law for injured people, has launched a national campaign calling for people who suffer life-changing injuries in dog attacks to be compensated.
Neil Sugarman, APIL president, said, “Victims of other crimes can claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to help put their lives back on track, and rightly so. But casualties of violent dog attacks were removed from the scheme four years ago, unless the dog was used deliberately to attack, rather than its owner being careless or reckless about it.
“Tougher jail sentences and penalties have been introduced to deal with the people responsible for the animals, but we need to look after the survivors. The fact that these victims are out of the scope of the scheme is a cruel and unfair oversight in this country’s support system for victims of crime.”
Kerry added, “I support this campaign because it’s not the victims’ fault they were attacked by a dog. None of us asked for it to happen, yet it changes our lives forever. The height of my bite would be the same as a small child’s head. The law needs to be changed so that those in charge of the dog at the time are held accountable. I’m lucky to still be alive but others might not be. ”