A MAN has recounted the terrifying moment a police dog savaged him by mistake as he walked home from a night out with friends.
Craig Cooper said he feared he was being stabbed when he was attacked without warning by the animal, which had been let off its leash as officers responded to a report of fighting nearby.
Landscape gardener Craig, from Westleigh, says he was on his phone at around 2am on Sunday August 3 while walking home through the Trees estate from a night out in Leigh when he was mauled.
Police told Craig, of Willow Crescent, he had inadvertently become caught up in a manhunt following reports of fighting on Westleigh Lane, with the officer handling the dog informing him he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The dog sank its teeth into his upper left arm before letting go and biting his leg instead, causing deep cuts which left him requiring a hospital trip for sterile strips and a tetanus injection.
Dad-of-four Craig, 37, said: “My phone rang and I answered it when all of a sudden I felt something at the back of me and on my arm.
“I didn’t have a clue what was going on, I thought someone was stabbing me. It let go but then grabbed my leg and I realised it must be a dog, but I couldn’t see anybody with it.
“The officer who arrived said to his colleague that he had called an ambulance because the dog had nipped me, and I thought it had done a bit more than that.
“It was a bit scary, I was just walking home. All the police have said is I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I don’t think that’s what they would have said if it had been my dog.”
Craig was attacked as officers were searching for a man who had run off in the direction of the fields at the back of St Paul’s Primary School.
He said the police knew instantly the dog had caught the wrong person as the suspect they were looking for was wearing shorts.
Craig had to spend around three and a half hours at Wigan Infirmary, with hospital staff having to leave many of his wounds open to prevent infection and glueing the bite marks on his leg rather than stitching them.
He has now had to spend around a week off work with his injuries, and has lodged an official complaint with GMP. He has also spoken to solicitors about taking the matter further.
Craig said: “It’s just not something you expect to happen.
“The police told my partner it was on a lead but was too far out for the officer to control it, and if that’s the case they should have it on a shorter lead.
“You don’t want somebody who’s got nothing to do with a police incident getting involved in a chase.”
A spokesman for GMP admitted a man had been bitten by a police dog during the response to reports of the fight, which was treated as a grade one incident, receiving scratches on his arms and puncture wounds on the thigh.
Police also confirmed a formal complaint was submitted on August 7 about the incident.