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A grandfather had to have both his legs amputated after being bitten by the same pet dog that killed his brother-in-law a month earlier.
Mark Day, 62, a builder from Colchester, Essex, lost both legs below the knee and almost all of his fingers after a bite from family dog Ted, a two-year-old American Akita, caused sepsis.
The infection was caused by bacteria in the dog’s mouth and turned Mr Day’s feet, mouth and nose black.
He was bitten by Ted on a walk while praising him for being a “good boy” on 19 August, the day of the funeral of his brother-in-law, Barry Harris, 46, who died after a bite from the same dog caused an infection that led to a fatal cardiac arrest.
It was only after Mr Day’s life-threatening reaction to infection that the family discovered the dog had been responsible for Mr Harris’s death. The animal was put down under doctors’ orders.
Mr Harris had bought the dog through Facebook from a seller in London. He was bitten while trying to prise a bone from its mouth, then fell ill with cold sweats and headaches, before later dying at home.
After Mr Day was bitten on the day of his brother-in-law’s funeral, he said his legs felt like “blocks of ice” and his temperature rose to 39C.
He suffered multiple organ failure and was placed in a 10-day coma at Colchester Hospital.
When he woke up, he found his legs had turned black. He was later transferred to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, where blood tests confirmed the bacteria from the dog’s mouth - Capnocytophaga canimorsus - had caused sepsis.
Mr Day celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife Pauline, Mr Harris’s sister, in hospital, before he had a six-hour amputation procedure on 2 November.
Two surgeons worked simultaneously to remove both of his legs, as well as all the fingers on his left hand and two fingers on his right hand.
Mr Day said: “I knew they’d need to amputate my legs the first time I was there looking at them.
“It was like a hideous nightmare. My feet were black almost a third of the way up. All I was thinking was that it’s like laying in a coffin looking at your dead body.
“I was so pleased when they said my legs were coming off. I thought, ‘Get them off and move on’."
Mr Harris, a groundworker, bought Ted in May for some “good company” after going through a break-up.
He was bitten by the dog after seven weeks and died three days later. On the morning of his funeral, the dog bit Mr Day during a walk.
“Ted had been really good so I gave him a treat and was telling him he’s a good boy,” said Mr Day.
“He had his head back loving the attention and then he just opened his mouth and put it around my hand.
“Ted didn’t even bite me. He just broke the skin on both sides. By Sunday, I remember laying in bed with uncontrollable shivers. Pauline took my temperature and it was 39C.
“The next thing she was on the phone trying to get an ambulance. I just thought it was the flu. I never thought for a minute it was linked to Ted. It’s just mind-numbing.”
Mr Day suffered cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure and had to be resuscitated twice after he was admitted to hospital on 22 August.
He was discharged from hospital last week, 82 days after first being admitted, and expects to receive prosthetic legs in the next six months.
Mr Day explained why he took care of Ted after Mr Harris died.
“It meant a lot to Pauline to keep him,” he said. “It was the last little bit of Barry. I decided to take him because it meant so much to Pauline.
“We didn’t have a clue that Barry died because Ted bit him. We never gave it a thought. I don’t blame Ted. It’s just one of those things, isn’t it. It’s a sad old situation.
“I’m fairly pragmatic about most things. It is what it is. I could lay in a corner and turn into a puddle but that’s not going to happen.
“There are things I want to do still. I want to take my granddaughter for a walk, and I’ve definitely got to go fishing.”
He also plans on having another dog at some point in the future.
“I’m going to get a puppy,” he said. “It’s probably going to be a Cocker Spaniel. The bite won’t make a difference to me. I’ve got no fear of seeing a dog.
“I’ve been bitten by dogs God knows how many times but it’s never been an issue.
“I knew where those dogs had come from and that they had injections – we’ll never know where Ted came from.”
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