Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 15:28 UK

Dog attack victim rehabilitated

Bite injuries on Chanelle's leg
Chanelle will undergo reconstructive surgery as a teenager

A girl of six scarred for life in a dog attack is the first victim to undergo rehabilitation with a 'therapy' dog under a new initiative.

Chanelle Sommerville suffered serious injuries to her legs and arms when an American bulldog attacked her in Neasden, north-west London, in March.

Brent Action for Responsible K9s (BARK) is helping Chanelle with her trauma.

The initiative could soon be expanded to the London boroughs of Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and Barnet.

The programme, run by police, Brent council and The Mayhew Animal Home, has been in operation since January 2007 and aims to educate people about handling dogs.

'Reinstating the love'

Chanelle was walking with her mother when the dog escaped its owner and bit her up to seven times.

She is currently undergoing physiotherapy and will face reconstructive surgery when she becomes a teenager but could face difficulty walking.

On Thursday the girl, who has suffered from nightmares following the ordeal, came into supervised contact with a dog for the first time since the attack.

In the first session she was introduced to a puppy and gradually as she overcomes her fears she will spend time with bigger dogs.

Pc Simon Underwood, who is managing the project, said: "We are trying to go some way in reinstating that love she once had for our canine friends.

"We believe that this is a great starting block, for Chanelle on the way to recovery by way of control and supervised interaction with the 'therapy' dogs."

The dog which attacked Chanelle was destroyed.

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Almost four thousand people in the UK have been attacked by dogs in the past year

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