Pit-bull victim tells of horror - and heroes

A dog-lover still: Mrs Bonic with her pet husky Brandy.
A dog-lover still: Mrs Bonic with her pet husky Brandy.

EVEN with much of her right arm gone, regular pain and a body covered in scars, Kathy Bonic isn't angry.

Today marks one year since she was savaged by a dog in her own home, an attack that brought her perilously close to death.

The Portland resident can still remember every terrifying moment of the ordeal - including the instant she knew Rocky, a three-year-old Saffordshire-pitbull cross, was about to strike.

But Mrs Bonic said she felt sympathy for the pet that saw her lose 4.5 litres of blood and spend eight weeks in hospital.

"I'm sad about what happened to him. He was a lovely dog and he was never vicious," she said.

"He paid with his life and I paid too, but if I could I'd save him."

The 69-year-old suspects Rocky became defensive after seeing her raise a remote control, mistakenly believing she was going to strike visiting granddaughter Bianca.

"When he came to me he was seven months old and whoever had him in Melbourne used to beat him up," she said.

The dog's swift and brutal attack was stopped only when neighbours Mick and Martin Jacobsen rushed to help, bravery commended this week by Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

"They mean everything to me; if they hadn't been home that day I would not be here," Mrs Bonic said of the twin brothers.

"They saved my life, simple as that."

Mick, who used a stick to smash his way into her Pile Court home after finding its front door locked, said he would never forget the experience.

"I still remember it clear as day," he said.

"(Rocky) was taking her down the back to finish her off, and the place looked like someone had been in there with a chainsaw."

The 49-year-old said he knew immediately that Mrs Bonic would lose her hand.

"I go over there every day for a cup of coffee and I help her open cans and take the garbage out. Whatever she needs doing I'll help her," he said.

"If something happens to someone, I'll help them out. Even my worst enemy - if I knew that their place was on fire, I'd go in there and try and get them out."

Mrs Bonic's hospital stay in Melbourne included 12 operations, with her right arm amputated just below the elbow and skin grafts used to cover bite wounds. A further four weeks at Portland District Health followed.

Today the grandmother of four is able to do everyday tasks such as shopping and cooking and is back to playing her beloved bingo twice a week.

Cards and soft toys sent after the attack still have pride of place on her mantelpiece, a reminder of both her ordeal and the importance of good friends.

Martin Jacobsen said it took him some time to come to terms with seeing his neighbour mauled.

It was he who came at Rocky with a wheelie bin, containing the pitbull in a room until help arrived.

"You've got to do something; it's another human being there," he said.

"I don't see us as heroes. There's people out there who should be called heroes: the fireys, the ambulance guys, the coppers ? they're everyday heroes."