A councillor has spoken of the harrowing moment her fingernails were ripped off in a dog attack as she posted a flyer, leaving her needing emergency surgery.
Deputy leader of Canterbury City Council, Rachel Carnac, was leafleting on behalf of a fellow councillor in Sturry when the animal snapped at her fingers through a letterbox.
The attack on Saturday left Cllr Carnac needing an emergency operation at East Grinstead Hospital, which specialises in hand surgery.
The senior Tory, who feared she might lose her fingers, has since described her ordeal.
She told KentOnline: "I’ve got bites on my right hand, the nail beds have had to be sewn in, which is what they did at East Grinstead, and I’ve lost my nails as a result.
"My nails will grow back, and for the next 10 days I’ll be resting my hand and taking the antibiotics.
"I'm lucky I haven't lost any of my fingers, that was my initial worry."
Cllr Carnac, who represents Reculver on the council, was full of praise for the QEQM Hospital in Margate, where she initially received treatment.
"The QEQM can sometimes get a bad press, but the staff were fantastic and I can't fault the care I've received at all," she said.
Cllr Carnac says she usually uses a posting peg when leafleting - a plastic gadget used to push post through a letterbox while avoiding any contact with unruly dogs.
She hopes her experience will serve as a “timely reminder” for dog owners to be responsible, and anyone who delivers door-to-door to be careful.
"With an election coming up next May, it doesn't matter who you are, you have to put yourself out there," she said.
"It's a timely reminder for volunteers all over the county to remain cautious.
"Even if people don't necessarily want the stuff coming through their letterbox, it's still the owner's responsibility to make sure their dog can't get someone through a letterbox.
"I really do think something like a cage on the back of letterboxes would be best to help prevent these sorts of issues."
The dog's owners were not home at the time of the attack, which was reported to police.
In the aftermath of the attack, Cllr Carnac took to Twitter to share her experience.
She tweeted: "Morning out delivering for [city councillor] Louise Harvey-Quirke until bitten by a dog. Thanks to [Maidstone councillor] Louise Brice for her help and to staff at East Kent Hospitals who promptly saw me."
Well-wishers were quick to send messages of support, including Cllr Brice, who replied: "You were very brave, hoping it is patched up okay now.
"Rest up and no leafleting for you for a while."
Another commented: "Sorry to read this. My wife had a similar experience.
"To anyone leaflet delivering, please use a wooden spoon or spatula to push leaflets through."
It isn’t the first time a dog has caused serious harm to a leafleting politician in Kent.
In September 2015, former Dover mayor Pam Brivio had part of her little finger bitten off and eaten by a pit bull while she was posting newsletters.
The dog was subsequently put down, while the owner narrowly avoided jail time.
At the time, Ms Brivio used the traumatic ordeal to back up calls for more responsible dog ownership.
Earlier this year, Royal Mail revealed that, on average, 32 members of staff are attacked by dogs on a weekly basis.
The RSPCA is renewing calls for dog owners to take precautions to avoid any possible incidents.
Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines told KentOnline: “There are different reasons as to why dogs might display aggressive behaviour.
“Some dogs can be territorial while others may be frightened by strangers.
“We are urging owners to take precautions. Doing things like putting your dog in a safe and secure room, or providing an alternative place to leave post, can help keep your dog happy.”
A police spokesman said: "Kent Police has received a report that a woman was bitten by a dog at a property in Chestnut Drive, Sturry at around 11am on Saturday 5 November 2022.
"Enquiries into the incident are ongoing."