Northern Ireland news

Girl (8) mauled by pitbull in north Belfast needs 80 stitches

Annie McFadden (8) is comforted by her grandmother Anne-Marie O'Dwyer. (right) Some of Annie's injuries. Pictures by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD girl needed eighty stitches to her head and body after being attacked by a pitbull-type dog.

Annie McFadden, a pupil at St Patrick’s Primary School in the New Lodge area of north Belfast, was pinned to the ground and mauled. After she got up and tried to run away, it attacked her again.

Annie was taken to the Mater Hospital and transferred to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, where she received 20 stitches to a head wound, including her forehead, and 60 more to her chest, arms and upper body.

She was attacked after leaving her home at Brucevale Park, off Cliftonville Road, at about 6pm on Sunday to go to Girdwood Community Hub to play football with a friend.

Her grandmother Anne-Marie O’Dwyer said doctors told the family that a wound on Annie’s chest was just 2cms from piercing her heart.

“She loves football. She is football mad,” she said.

“She left the house at 6pm and this happened 6.05pm."

Ms O’Dwyer said witnesses to the attack near the hub and Kinnaird Avenue told the family that a pitbull-type dog which was off the lead ran towards Annie and pinned her to the ground. She said two men tried to grab the animal but after Annie tried to run it resumed the attack.

Annie is recovering at home but is due to return to the Ulster on Friday to see a specialist about nerve damage to her shoulder.

“I feel disgusted that the dog was off the lead, especially a dog like that, with kids playing,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

She revealed that Annie is due to make her First Holy Communion on Sunday but it is unclear whether she will be able to attend.

“She just keeps saying ‘Why did the dog jump me? She just doesn’t understand. She didn’t go near the dog. The dog went to her,” she said.

“She is having nightmares and everything. She could be dead, without a doubt. I wouldn’t like to see any other child going through this."

Police said they received a report of a dog attack, which has been “passed through to the local dog warden, who will be carrying out an investigation”.

Belfast City Council said its wardens are investigating and “we cannot comment further while the investigation is ongoing”.

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