Terror in the tanning salon
I heard my daughter’s screams, and started running Kristina Sarwar, 43, Renfrewshire
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