Man loses finger tip protecting pet

Connolly resident Bryan Thorn and his dog Tandy were injured by another dog while walking at Lysander Park in Heathridge. Pictures: Martin Kennealey d491259
Connolly resident Bryan Thorn and his dog Tandy were injured by another dog while walking at Lysander Park in Heathridge. Pictures: Martin Kennealey d491259

A CONNOLLY man lost the tip of his finger after it was bitten off by a dog in Heathridge last weekend.

Bryan Thorn said he was injured when he tried to stop another dog attacking his miniature schnauzer, Tandy (9), at Lysander Park about 6.15pm on Saturday February 23.


Mr Thorn said he was walking Tandy when a Staffordshire bull terrier that was not on a lead attacked her with “jaws like vice grips” before he could protect her.

“What ensued was absolutely scary,” he said.

Mr Thorn’s bandaged finger. Photo: Martin Kennealey

“The screeching from mine attracted neighbours to the scene and another man and I tried to get the attacker off.

“In the frenzy, which included both of us kicking it with all we had, and me also trying to free mine, the top part my ring finger on my right hand was bitten off.

“Eventually we freed mine and I went into shock realising what had happened.”

Mr Thorn said after the traumatic incident, the woman with the other dog walked off without any comment, while an onlooker helped him and Tandy home.


His wife Wendy took him to Joondalup hospital, where he was admitted to the surgery ward until he could have surgery on Monday.

“The risk of infection was extreme,” he said.

Mrs Thorn went home to collect Tandy and took her to an emergency vet 22km away, where she was treated and went into surgery on Sunday morning.

“There are patches, stitches and drains and it is a miracle she survived,” Mr Thorn said, adding vet costs so far were more than $2700.

Tandy after the attack.

Mr Thorn said the attack left him with a permanent disability, and he would need counselling to deal with it.

“The part taken off is from the top joint before the finger nail,” he said.

“I also have stitches from lacerations above my left wrist.”

Joondalup chief executive Garry Hunt said the City took the issue of dog attacks seriously and was investigating this incident.

Tandy’s injuries.

“Officers will assess the incident once evidence is collected to determine any action required,” he said.

“The investigation will be extensive and incorporate statements from all parties involved and any potential witnesses.

“The City will also consider dog registration details, photographs of the dogs involved in the incident, background checks on the animals – making particular note of any prior history of offending – and all medical or veterinary reports.”


Mr Hunt said the City could issue infringements to people responsible for an animal that committed an offence, impound the animal, declare it a dangerous dog, prosecute or seek an order to seize and put down a dog.

Victim calls for all dogs to be on leashes in parks

After the incident Mr Thorn, who is the Connolly Residents Association president, raised concerns with Joondalup councillors that there was “a lack of safety in public areas where dogs are allowed to roam uncontrolled”.

“What was supposed to be a quiet afternoon walk with my dog turned out to be a nightmare,” he said.

“People assume all the parks are safe; that is not the case – there is risk that a child could get killed by one of the vicious dogs that are permitted to roam free in parks.

“There is an enormous unnecessary cost to health insurance, innocent owners and resources to deal with the incidents.”

Mr Thorn said he wanted the City to change rules to require all dogs to be on leads in parks and that certain breeds wear muzzles.

Mr Hunt said dog owners were required to have their dogs under effective control when in public.


“While in animal exercise areas, dogs may be off lead, however they must return when called back and must not be at a distance where the owner is unable to control their dogs,” he said.

“Owners should always be mindful of other patrons within the park.

“The City is currently undertaking a companion animal door knock where information about responsible dog ownership is being disseminated to residents.”

Mr Hunt said the City accepted feedback from residents and other stakeholders with concerns about places where people can exercise dogs.

“Where there is a compelling case for change the City would develop a report which would then be considered by council,” he said.

How common are dog attacks?

Joondalup Health Campus emergency medicine director Cameron Burrows said dog bites were reasonably common, with at least 15 people a month seeking treatment.

“Infection can occur if the skin is broken and bacteria from the saliva of the animal that has bitten is passed into a person’s bloodstream,” he said.

“It’s a good idea to seek medical attention from your GP if you have not had a full course of tetanus immunisation, or if your boosters are not up to date.”

Dr Burrows said signs of infection included swelling, redness, increasing tenderness around the bit, discharge from the wound, swollen lymph nodes and shivers or a high temperature.

Mr Hunt said the City received an average of 25 dog attack reports per month in 2018.