A FATHER-OF-THREE fears he could lose the use of one of his arms after being savaged by a police dog as he helped officers track down a suspected criminal on his street.
Surgeons treating Mark Smith said the injuries to his left arm were like those from a shark attack following the mauling by one of North Yorkshire Police’s German Shepherds.
The brewery worker had been helping officers track down a suspected offender who was on the run from police near his home in Tadcaster when the dog pounced on him.
Mr Smith, 45, told the Yorkshire Post that he had just seen police locate the man, who he was told had previously tried to run down a police officer, when he spotted the dog off its lead.
He said: “It was 25 yards away, it looked at me then it very pointedly trotted straight at me. I couldn’t see the danger at first. It just flew straight at me, it was not growling, not barking.
“It grabbed me by my left arm and took me to the ground and just started to bite. I can’t described how horrific it was.
“I am a big lad and its jaws were completely around my left arm. I could hear my arm crunching and severing. It must have had me for five or ten seconds. I was screaming.
“The police must have seen it doing this to me, they must have been aware.”
After the dog released Mr Smith, an ambulance was quickly called to the cul-de-sac where he lives with his wife and three children, aged between 11 and seven.
He was taken to Leeds General Infirmary but was told his arm was too badly damaged for it to be reconstructed immediately.
He said: “My arm is basically useless. It has almost eaten me. I have never experienced power or severity like it, the plastic surgeons described it as being like a shark attack. It must have been five or ten seconds it was smashing my arm to pieces. It was absolutely horrific.
“The doctors don’t know if I will get the use back in my arm. I have got feeling at the ends but I can’t grab things.
“The surgeons have cleaned it and tried to reconstruct it but there are bits missing. There are still huge gaps under the bandages. I thought I was going to die, if it had stayed on me much longer then I might have done.”
The attack took place on Thursday morning, as police tried to apprehend a wanted man on Mr Smith’s street in Tadcaster.
The man took refuge in gardens but was spotted by residents on the street, including Mr Smith, who had just returned from the bank. The dog that attacked him was one of three being used by police to track down the suspect.
On Friday, the day after receiving his injuries, Mr Smith says he was called by an officer from Selby who apologised and promised to investigate the matter.
Mr Smith said: “The only thing I am happy about is that it didn’t attack anyone else like my wife or children or any of my neighbours.
“If you had a dog like that you would have to make sure it was supervised at all times. You don’t let them loose.”
German Shepherds are considered the first choice of breed for police work because of their alertness, highly developed senses and suspicion of strangers.
On its website, North Yorkshire Police says its dog section has 35 dogs as well as one sergeant, 20 constables and two dog trainers.
Its main functions include crime prevention, searching for missing and wanted people, drugs detection and recovering evidence.
A spokesman said: “North Yorkshire Police can confirm that a member of the public was bitten by a police dog during the pursuit of a wanted man in Tadcaster on Thursday May 23, 2013.
“The matter has been passed to the force’s Professional Standards Department who will investigate should a complaint be forthcoming.”
He said the matter would only be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if an official complaint was made.
News published on: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/general-news/man-savaged-by-police-dog-may-lose-use-of-arm-1-5714500