Ter­ror in the tan­ning sa­lon

I heard my daugh­ter’s screams, and started run­ning Kristina Sar­war, 43, Ren­frew­shire

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Strap­ping my youngest daugh­ter into her car seat, I turned to my other three girls.

‘Lets swing by the corner shop on the way home,’ I said.

It was Septem­ber 2015, and Kiera, then 16, had just fin­ished her kick­box­ing les­son. Like ev­ery Satur­day, I’d brought Kris­tine, 5, Kin­zara (who we call Zara), 3, and Aria, 1, with me to watch.

They’d been so well be­haved. So I de­cided to make a quick pit stop on the way home. ‘For sweet­ies?’ Zara asked. ‘You got it!’ I grinned. I pulled up out­side the sweet shop, and Kiera and Zara hopped out. ‘I’ll be there in a minute,’ I said, fid­dling with Aria’s car seat.

The girls held hands and headed to­wards the shop.

‘I’m just go­ing to pop in next door,’ Kiera shouted. ‘OK, love,’ I replied. I watched as they dis­ap­peared into the neigh­bour­ing tan­ning sa­lon.

But as I hoisted Aria onto my hip, took Kris­tine’s hand in mine, and walked to­wards the shop, I heard Kiera scream­ing.

Sud­denly, she was run­ning to­wards me, arms flail­ing.

‘Quick, Mum!’ she cried. Pan­ick­ing, I just started run­ning. As we raced in­side, Kiera was ram­bling, and I only caught a few words. ‘Dog. Zara. Bite. Blood.’

In­side the sa­lon, I could see Zara on the floor, blood drip­ping from her chin. She wasn’t cry­ing, in­stead, she looked va­cant. In shock. Kiera took Aria and Kris­tine as I tried to take ev­ery­thing in.

A woman was pulling a mas­sive dog – a bull­mas­tiff – into a back room.

Grab­bing some tis­sues from the re­cep­tion desk, I pressed them to Zara’s face.

‘I don’t know what hap­pened!’ Kiera cried. ‘We just walked in and the dog jumped at Zara.’

But there was no time to take it in. There were two deep gashes on ei­ther side of my lit­tle girl’s face. stood in my way.

‘Please don’t let my dog die,’ she bab­bled.

I reeled in shock. ‘Move please!’ I shouted. ‘My daugh­ter needs help.’

But she re­fused. Kept say­ing she didn’t want her dog to die, ask­ing what I’d tell the po­lice.

‘I’ll tell them the truth!’ I yelled. ‘Your mutt mauled my lit­tle girl.’

Barg­ing past with my girls, I rushed back to the car and raced to Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal.

In my rear-view mir­ror, I could see Zara dip­ping in and out of con­scious­ness. She’s lost too much blood, I thought, pan­ick­ing.

‘Keep her awake!’ I yelled to Kiera.

Ar­riv­ing at hos­pi­tal,we darted into A&E.

‘Help!’ I yelled. ‘My daugh­ter’s been at­tacked by a dog.’

Within sec­onds, nurses sur­rounded us. They re­moved the sod­den tis­sues from her face.

‘She’ll need plas­tic surgery,’ one said. My heart broke. Doc­tors ban­daged Zara’s face be­fore she was trans­ferred to Glas­gow Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. Plas­tic sur­geons were wait­ing and whisked Zara away.

The bite went down to the bone and was a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion risk. So Zara was hooked up to an IV drip while they de­bated the best course of ac­tion.

In the panic, I’d not had the chance to call my hus­band Tariq.

But, now, he left work and

There were two deep gashes ei­ther side of her face

I tried to soothe her when the night­mares came

dashed to Zara’s side.

We then called the po­lice, who came to take our state­ment.

Mean­while, Zara had surgery to close the wounds and was kept in hos­pi­tal.

She strug­gled – we all

did. Aria and Kris­tine missed their sis­ter. Kiera blamed her­self. ‘I should’ve stood in front of her,’ she said.

I blamed my­self, too. Why didn’t I just go straight home?

In fact, the real blame lay in the jaws of that dog – and its owner.

A week on, the dog was handed over to the po­lice. It was go­ing to be put down. I hoped it’d put Zara’s mind at ease.

I watched help­lessly as sur­geons stitched up then re­opened her wounds three times. I tried to soothe her when the night­mares came.

Af­ter two weeks, Zara was dis­charged. Sur­geons had clev­erly patched up the wounds so the scars were close to her jaw line. Less ob­vi­ous.

But over the next few years, we were back and forth for check­ups and laser treat­ment. The scars faded, but were still vis­i­ble.

Yet the men­tal scars af­fected Zara, now 7, most.

Now, when she sees a dog, she’ll cry, freeze in fear, or jump side to side to avoid it.

‘The bad dog has gone. It won’t hurt you any more,’ I re­mind her. But she doesn’t fully un­der­stand.

Then again, nei­ther do I re­ally. Be­cause even though the dog was put down, the own­ers were never charged.

Only Kiera and the sa­lon owner saw what hap­pened – lawyers said there weren’t enough wit­nesses.

My lit­tle girl didn’t get jus­tice. No com­pen­sa­tion for the years of pain and per­ma­nent fa­cial scars.

It’s mad­den­ing. And I know Zara is not alone.

So now I cam­paign for a change to dog-own­er­ship laws. I want to make own­ers of dogs more re­spon­si­ble, ac­count­able.

It won’t help Zara, but it might stop this hap­pen­ing to some­one else.

That would be some jus­tice, at least.

My lit­tle girl’s men­tal scars still re­main

I felt help­less as she lay in hos­pi­tal

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