Dog owner left with £7K bill after dog attack gets just £500 compensation

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A DOG lover left with vet fees of £7,000 after her pet was almost ripped in half by an American bulldog has criticised a court for ordering the owner to pay just £500 compensation.

And to add insult to injury, Valerie Millen will receive the sum at the rate of just £5 a week.

Valerie’s six-year-old beagle, Bonnie, suffered such extensive injuries that some of Scotland’s top vets used a pioneering “velcro” technique to put her together again.

st Lothian, directly owes the vets £2,800. And although her insurers paid the remaining £4,000, her premium has doubled as a result, now costing an extra £240 a year.

 

Bonnie 1
Bonnie has now recovered well and is getting back to her old self

The 48-year-old from Bathgate, West Lothian, directly owes the vets £2,800. And although her insurers paid the remaining £4,000, her premium has doubled as a result, now costing an extra £240 a year.

She and husband, Kenny, 51, are furious after the owner of the American bulldog, Alana Poterala, 26, also from Bathgate, appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court last week.

Poterala pled guilty to permitting her dog, Hector, to cause danger, injury or annoyance on July 10 last year in Alexandra Avenue. After hearing that Poterala was on benefits, Sheriff Susan Craig ordered her to pay £500 compensation at the rate of £10 a fortnight, starting on October 14.

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Bonnie got stitched up after surgeons used Velcro and hooks to pull the skin together

Valerie said: “I’m gobsmacked at the outcome. £10 a fortnight to pay me back – it’s ridiculous.

“When we found out I was gutted . What’s this all about? I still have to pay the costs. I’m responsible but they’re not?

“The vets knew we were going to court so allowed us to pay up the vet bill at £50 a month.

“We were all hoping the owner of the dog who attacked Bonnie would be held accountable so the fees would be paid by them.

“The owner didn’t have any pet insurance. And it’s not like I was entitled to anything like legal aid or victim support.

“I’ve not even received an apology. The first thing I would have done was say sorry.”

The America bulldog ripped Bonnie open from her stomach to her back as he held her in his mouth and shook her from side to side.

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Bonnie a year after her surgery

He then went on to bite Mrs Millen and her friend as they tried to separate the dogs and only stopped when locals came by and kicked him off.

Witnesses described how they saw a lump of flesh on the ground with skin and hair still attached to it.

Local vets tried and failed to close the massive wound and referred Bonnie to the Royal School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh.

Specialists used a “Velcro”-style fabric fastener which was glued to each side of the wound to keep it shut long enough so that it could be stitched.

Bonnie was the first dog in the UK to receive the treatment.

Even after the surgery, the costs continued to mount. Valerie said: “When Bonnie was discharged she was an out patient so we still had to take her in a couple of times a week. Every week we went it was another £100 so the costs piled up.”

Despite the traumatic experience and three weeks away from her owner, Bonnie has healed well and is beginning to get back to her usual happy self.

Mr Millen said: “She’s still a bit timid but once she gets to know someone she’s fine. If a big dog approaches she will shy away. She can still be a little nervous.

“She’s still a bit indented but has recovered well.”

The American bulldog is believed to be in secure kennels at Edinburgh Cat and Dog Home in Seafield while its fate is decided.

The Civic Government Scotland Act 1982 states that: “Any person who suffers or permits any creature in his charge to cause danger or injury to any other person who is in a public place or to give such person reasonable cause for alarm or annoyance shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £500.”

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.”

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