Woman Instructs Serious Injury Lawyers To Investigate And Launch High Court Legal Case
A woman who had her left arm amputated after being attacked by a dog has revealed the life-changing impact of her injuries.
Joanna Harris, 49, had fostered the dog from the RSPCA. While in her home in Crowborough, East Sussex, the dog latched on to her arm moments after she had managed to release his jaw from her own pet dog, Bo.
The 15-month-old American bulldog, called Kiwi, had previously shown physical aggression towards RSPCA staff resulting in minor injuries, legal papers submitted to the High Court by Irwin Mitchell say. The incident happened days after Kiwi had tried to bite Joanna.
Dog had to be Tasered to subdue him
Joanna was unable to release Kiwi’s grip from her left arm. She went into the garden and asked a neighbour to call the police and an ambulance. The dog then started to pull and shake on her arm and attempted to bite her neck. When police arrived around 20 minutes later, Kiwi was still latched on to Joanna. Officers had tried to release the dog but when that didn’t work, they had to Taser him three times to subdue him, court documents say.
Joanna was taken to hospital. Her left bicep was exposed, she was unable to mobilise her arm, and blood supply to her arm was lost. Joanna had to have her left arm amputated. She also suffered injuries to her right arm, hand and leg.
Kiwi was later put down.
Joanna asks lawyers for help after having left arm amputated following dog bite incident
Following the incident in September 2021, Joanna instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her access the specialist support, rehabilitation and therapies she requires.
Joanna has now spoken for the first time about the effect the incident has had. She is hoping that legal proceedings in the High Court will provide her with answers.
The RSPCA has denied liability.
Expert Opinion“Joanna has faced an incredibly difficult time coming to terms with the physical and psychological impact of the incident which has changed her life forever. Her case vividly highlights the devastating effect such incidents can have on people.
“Understandably she has a number of concerns about what happened and whether more could have been done to prevent her horrific injuries.
“While nothing can make up for what she’s been through we’re determined to support Joanna to provide her with not only the answers she deserves but also the specialist support and therapies she requires to regain more of her independence.” Chani Dhaliwal
Animal injuries High Court legal case issued
In court documents Irwin Mitchell argue that the RSPCA is liable under the Animals Act. The alleged breaches include that the RSPCA should have known the aggressive nature of the dog given the behaviour it had previously shown. It is alleged that The RSPCA allowed Kiwi to be fostered when it was unsafe to do so.
It is also alleged that the RSPCA failed to remove Kiwi from Joanna’s house when she reported that he tried to bite her on 26 August 2021 – a week before the incident on 3 September in which Joanna was injured.
Joanna, had to take a substantial time off from her job as a product owner lead in the financial service industry. She’s reliant on her partner, neighbours and family to help care for her.
Expert Opinion“Sadly we’re seeing more incidents where people have been seriously injured in dog bite attacks. This has been particularly the case since lockdown when dog ownership increased.” Chani Dhaliwal
East Sussex dog owner Joanna reveals impact incident has had on her life
Joanna said: “It’s almost difficult to put into words what happened to me and the impact it’s had. I’ve always loved and grown up around dogs and really wanted to give a dog a home and a new life.
“What happened that day and how I was attacked in my own home is something that will stay with me forever. It was absolutely terrifying. Even when the police arrived Kiwi didn’t want to let go. The pain I was in was excruciating and I knew I was in a bad way.
“However, nothing prepared me for the news that I had to have my arm amputated. At that moment my life changed. I lost a lot of confidence and independence. I became a lot more reliant on friends and family, even for things such as getting dressed and food shopping, things many people take for granted.
“I try and remain as positive as I can and want to focus of my recovery, but I feel I deserve answers to the concerns I have.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people injured in incidents involving animals at our dedicated animal injuries section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.