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Dog savages leafleting councillor

Published 13/04/2015

Surgeons repaired the damage to Jane Chitty's fingers in a three hour operation at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead
Surgeons repaired the damage to Jane Chitty's fingers in a three hour operation at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead

A Conservative councillor had three fingers savaged by a dog as she delivered leaflets while out on the campaign trail.

Jane Chitty, who sits on the Medway Council in Kent, was out canvassing with her grandchildren and daughter-in-law when the animal attacked as she posted a flyer through a letterbox.

Three fingers on her right hand were damaged and she underwent a three-hour operation to repair tendons and nerve-damage.

Despite not knowing whether she will regain the feeling in her fingers, she has vowed to be back out campaigning within weeks.

Mrs Chitty, who has represented North Strood for 32 years, was canvassing in her ward to support Rochester and Strood MP candidate Kelly Tolhurst on Friday afternoon when she was bitten by the dog, which she believes was a Staffordshire bull terrier.

She said: "It was so lovely to have my family around and it was going well. I put the leaflet into the letterbox and it is impossible to explain how it happened.

"Normally if there are dogs you hear them barking, or you hear them padding along the hallway, but the dog was utterly silent.

"It had got hold of three fingers on my right hand. My little finger and thumb were OK, but it had hold of the middle three fingers and it locked up.

"I couldn't get my hand away. Apparently I screamed, which I suppose is a natural reaction."

Mrs Chitty managed to free her hand and walked away across the road. But it was only when she sat on a wall that she realised the extent of her injuries.

She said: "There was blood pumping everywhere. It was covering my other hand and it was all over the bag I was carrying. I brushed my hair away and it got in my hair, and as I sat on the wall there was a pool of blood."

Two women rushed to help stem the flow of blood.

Mrs Chitty managed to call her daughter-in-law, who was in a different street, and after her grandchildren went home she was taken to hospital.

She said: "My fingers were chewed and two of them were pretty much torn to shreds. I can promise you it was not very nice. It was utterly appalling to look at, disgusting.

"But there are two ways of dealing with this - either you are going to get utterly hysterical and lose it, or you stay sensible and let other people do what they need to do."

Following X-rays Mrs Chitty underwent a three-hour operation on Saturday at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead to repair shredded nerve endings and tendons that had been chewed.

She came out of hospital today and faces a wait of up to 12 months to find out how much feeling she will regain in her fingers.

Mrs Chitty said she has been inundated with messages since the incident, including from political rivals, and has been touched by the gestures of goodwill.

She praised the two women who helped her as "absolutely lovely", and called the nurses and theatre staff who treated her as "wonderful".

She said: " I am so grateful. I could have lost my fingers, or two of them, but they have done such a fantastic job of putting them back together. The work they did was astronomical. These people are out of this world at what they do.

"When something really horrible happens, what struck me is how lovely people can be."

And despite her traumatic ordeal Mrs Chitty remains pragmatic - and hopes to be back out campaigning next week to defend her council seat in elections on May 7.

She said: "The mouth is still working. If something happens you don't stop living, you carry on."

Mrs Chitty plans to contact police tomorrow to report the incident.

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