A WOMAN was punched in the face and her puppy kicked in front of her young daughter by a fellow dog walker who accused her of failing to keep it under control.
The vicious attack at Stanpit Marsh in Christchurch left carer Kayleigh Boulton (24) with a badly bruised eye and her two-year-old daughter Elsie-Rose too traumatised to return to the popular beauty spot.
Kayleigh had been walking five-month-old lurcher/saluki-cross Hadley on the field near the cricket pitch with Elsie-Rose and her mother Lynne when the incident happened around 10.45am last Thursday.
“Dogs are allowed to run freely at Stanpit Marsh, and he [Hadley] wouldn’t hurt a soul – he’s absolutely soppy. He’s just at the stage where he is curious about everything,” Kayleigh told the A&T as she continued to recover from her injury at home on Monday.
On the morning of the attack, she said, Hadley had run up to a young couple sitting on a bench, and they stroked him before he approached a white westie-type dog being walked by a man nearby.
“He’s a very submissive dog, so was just crouching down by the westie – he just wanted to play with it really,” Kayleigh recalled.
“But the Westie was just growling and barking at him, so mum called for him to come back, and that’s when the man started shouting towards us.
“I saw him try twice to kick my dog, and on the third try he clipped him on the side with his right foot.
“I said, ‘Please don’t kick my dog’, and as we were walking away he came storming up to me. I turned and he got in my face and was shouting. He told me my dog should be on a lead, even though he had done nothing wrong.
“I said, ‘Please get out of my face’. He stepped back and then punched me across the left side of my face. There was no hesitation – it was like he was stepping back to take a swing.”
Kayleigh said the force of the punch knocked her glasses off. Her assailant then stormed off.
She was left with bruising around her left eye and mild concussion which required hospital treatment. She suffered dizziness for several hours after the attack and also felt ill for the rest of the day.
Amid continuing headaches and dizzy spells she has been unable to return to work as a community carer as the job requires her to drive.
Kayleigh also revealed the toll the ordeal had taken on herself and her family.
“I was very anxious afterwards,” she said. “My daughter has shown signs of distress as well. She seems scared to walk over Stanpit Marsh now.
“I tried to go back there on Saturday with my partner, my daughter and my dog, but I had no luck with calming her down. I had to carry her around Stanpit.
“My mother is disabled with fibromyalgia so obviously the stress of what happened didn’t help her.
“I’ve lived here all my life and my childhood memories are all around here, so it’s a shame that something like this has to happen to spoil all that. I can’t go over there alone anymore.”
Hadley escaped any serious injury and, although he seemed unsettled in the hours following the assault, Kayleigh said he was now “absolutely fine”.
She was also unhappy the police took more than a day to respond to her report of the offence. But she stressed she did not blame the officers, citing the force’s limited resources amid continued funding cuts by government.
“They’ve been okay now, but if they’d responded quicker they may have been able to catch the man,” she said.
“If it was someone more vulnerable than myself who he targeted, I dread to think what could have happened.”
Police investigating the attack are urging those who saw it or can help trace the man wanted in connection with it.
He has been described as white, in his late 60s or early 70s, about 5ft 8in tall, with a large stomach, short white hair and stubble. He was wearing white trousers and a maroon-coloured top rolled up at the sleeves, and he spoke with a strong Scottish accent.
PC Matthew Budd said: “This incident – which occurred in front of her young child – has left the victim feeling very distressed and I am appealing to anyone who was in the area and witnessed what happened to please get in touch.
“I am also keen to hear from anyone who recognises the man and his dog from the description given.”
Those with information should contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 55200136126, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.