by PHILLIPPA BUTT, NT News
A NINE-YEAR-OLD girl has suffered serious leg injuries and spent more than five hours in the Royal Darwin Hospital's emergency department after she was attacked by a dog outside Hibiscus Shopping Centre.
Shallen Hart had left her karate class to go to the toilet, when she noticed a dog, which she described as a black and white staffordshire bull terrier, tied up and gave it a wide berth.
"Then it just pounced on my chest, knocked me to the ground and started to savage my leg," the Karama local said.
It took three men to pull the dog off the child, which then attacked one of the men's shopping bags.
Mum Sharon McKee said it was horrible watching her daughter get attacked.
"I went for it and tried to pull it and kick it off, but it was too strong," she said.
"I was in shock, I've had dogs all of my life.
"When Shallen was screaming it was just horrific.
"And, when the dog had been pulled off her, it just stood there, with her blood dripping from its mouth."
The attack, which severed a vein on the nine-year-old's left thigh and left puncture marks and scratches on her arms and stomach, left Shallen with three stitches and bruising all over her legs and chest.
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Ms McKee said about five minutes later the dog's owner emerged from the shopping centre, and began yelling abuse at her and Shallen.
"She's very wary now when she's around dogs," Ms McKee said. "Hopefully once she gets back to normality, it'll be good, but for now she hasn't been able to go to swimming or karate. She's already missed a swim meet and she's been away from her friends."
Darwin Council is investigating the incident, and has the option to declare the dog violent and euthanise it.
"To be on the safe side for other people, I believe that dog needs to be put down," Ms McKee said.
"I don't want another person to be attacked."
In 2015-16, complaints of 173 dog attacks were lodged with Darwin Council, while there were 847 reports of dogs at large. The council issued 337 infringement notices.
The council will discuss a new animal management plan at its meeting on Tuesday, with the aim to reduce dog attacks by 15 per cent a year.