A police probe has been launched after a beloved dog was slashed in the face as it tried to protect from its owner from a knifeman in Sunderland city centre.
Narni was left with head injuries after she jumped in front of owner Gary Nichols when he was threatened with a knife.
She was rushed to the PDSA hospital for emergency treatment, where she was sedated and spent two days.
Gary had been to visit his friends at Happier Days for Strays charity in Hylton Road when he was approached by a man while walking through the centre, near The Fire Station at around 6.30pm last Monday.
The 48-year-old said: “I don’t know what I would have done without her. I was so scared of losing her.
“When I saw all the blood I panicked and brought her straight home. I tried everything I could to stop the bleeding, but it was just too deep. I was just in shock.
The injury was horrificMichelle Ineson
“I thought I was losing her, I honestly did.”
Narni was kept in the hospital overnight and owner Gary said he ‘didn’t sleep a wink’ with worry, and he spent his first night apart from Narni since she was six months old.
“On the second day, when we picked her up, I was so pleased to get her home to me,” he added.
“I didn’t sleep the night before, not one wink.
“I could never part with my dogs. When I was homeless and the council said last winter ‘if you get rid of your dogs we can get you in a hostel’, I just said ‘no, I can’t do that.”
Narni was released from the animal hospital last Wednesday morning, with medication.
Michelle Imeson, who works for the animal charity, said they had previously fostered four-year-old Narni and Gary’s other dog, 10-year-old Jack Russell Lucky when Gary was homeless and taken into hospital.
The charity has helped Gary back on his feet and he and his pets now live happily together in a flat in the city.
Michelle said: “The injury was horrific, when I saw her I couldn’t believe it. I could actually see the back of her eyeball.”
She said Narni, a small American bulldog, and Lucky, are Gary’s life.
Michelle said: “Gary was distraught when he phoned to say what had happened.
“The dogs mean so much to him and he is great with them, when he had to go into hospital while he was homeless he was frantic.
“His main concern was for the dogs and the police got in touch with us to find someone to look after them for him.
“We helped him get back on his feet with a home and furniture and he is doing really well now, but for this to happen is horrendous.”
Michelle added: “I cannot comprehend the sort of person who would stab a dog like this with a knife for no reason, and what if Narni hadn’t jumped in front, it could have been Gary.
“Anyone who is walking around with a knife intends to hurt someone or something with it.”
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “On Monday, February 18, police received a report that a dog had been attacked by an individual on Church Lane, Sunderland.
“Inquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 quoting reference 1191 180219 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Gary says the man was wearing a dark jacket, was around 5ft 7in-tall, of slim build, and he ran from the street after the attack.