A woman left bleeding by a dog while swimming in the sea in Rustington has warned owners to be more careful with their pets.
Jo Phillips, 76, was in the water on Friday afternoon when she claimed the canine came bounding into the sea and, mistaking her swimming cap for a ball, made a beeline for her.
She said: "I was wearing a swimming cap and goggles, and he probably thought I was a ball to play with."
She said the dog, which she estimated to weigh 35 to 40kg, started roughly playing with her and pushed her under the water. “After the third or fourth time, I thought ‘If I don’t get up this time, I won’t have the strength to paddle again,” Jo said.
The Angmering resident claimed that all the while this was happening, the dog’s owners did nothing to help.
It was only when a fellow swimmer, who was taller than her, walked out as far as she could, grabbed the dog’s collar and pulled it off her that the pet left her alone.
Having been left shaken by the incident, Jo quickly got out of the water – and then realised she was ‘dripping blood everywhere’.
The dog had left her with scratch marks on her arms and shallower ones on her back, she said, as well as bruising. The dog’s owner attempted to get Jo’s phone number, but she said that her only concern was getting her injuries seen to.
Jo was eventually treated that evening at The Park Surgery in St Floras Road, Littlehampton, and has since had her dressings replaced.
She said: “I am very lucky. The dog wasn’t vicious and I don’t have very deep cuts, so they are healing up nicely, but the bruises will take three or four weeks to heal.
“Thank goodness I wasn’t going to a dinner dance or something.”
Jo felt the owners ‘should have been more thoughtful’. She said: “There could have been an older person in the water, or a child.”
According to the Arun District Council website, dogs do not have to be on a leash on Rustington beach.
Jo reported the incident to Sussex Police on Saturday.
A police spokesman said: “The woman suffered minor cuts and bruises after being scratched by a dog that tried to play with her in the sea, causing her some difficulty while swimming.
“The owners of the dog offered their details, but the woman did not take them. There are no further lines of enquiry and the matter has been filed.”