A RENOWNED Cork cervical check campaigner opened up about being mauled by rottweilers as a child as concerns grow for the young boy in Wexford recovering from a vicious Pitbull attack.
Stephen Teap is best known for his campaigning to improve cancer screening following the death of his 35-year-old wife from cervical cancer arising from deficiencies in the health system.
The father-of-two raised awareness of another important issue on the Opinion Line on 96FM.
His decision to speak out about dog attacks comes in the wake of a devastating incident involving a boy named Alejandro Mizsan in Wexford.
The nine-year-old is expected to stay in Crumlin Children’s Hospital for at least a month after already enduring two surgeries. He had been playing in Enniscorthy when the pitbull attack took place last Sunday at 4pm.
Stephen, who suffered a severe dog attack at the same age, will be speaking about his own experience at the children and dogs workshop taking place at the Marina Market at 7pm this evening. The event will be co-hosted by Esther Ring from Top Barkz and consultant paediatrician, Dr Niamh Lynch. It comes two years after Stephen approached Esther Ring for help with his own fear of dogs.
Speaking to PJ Coogan on 96FM’s Opinion Line Stephen said:
“When I was a child I got attacked very badly by two dogs. I was nine years of age-the same age as that poor boy in Wexford. The way it was described makes the hair on my arms stand up because he is also the same age as my own boy Oscar.”
Stephen recalled the horrific day he was attacked.
“On the 27th of April, 1990 I was down in my neighbour’s house playing. It was a Friday and it was 5pm. My neighbours had two rottweilers that they used to keep in a pen. You would always be aware of it because you always heard them barking.”
The attack occurred when Stephen was enjoying some playtime in a nearby green area with a friend for an hour before dinner time. Just nine years old at the time, Stephen said he knew the dogs should not have been running freely.
“I guess my presence was what startled him,” he said of the first dog who attacked. “Straight away he made a beeline for me and started mauling my arm and my leg."
It wasn’t long before the second dog joined in the attack.
“I was only nine and the smallest rottweiler was nine stone. The biggest rottweiler was 11 stone. Underneath my t-shirt and on my leg I still have the scars to show it.”
He admitted that he once had been ashamed of the scars.
“I was so embarrassed and shamed by these scars and didn’t want to talk about them. The teeth sinking into you, you don’t feel. It was the years afterwards of trauma, of trying to get over my fear of dogs. Fear of dogs is like being afraid of oxygen. It’s not until you’re actually afraid of it that you realise how many dogs are around. The dogs wandering around off leads are literally everywhere.”
He spoke about how the fear affected his childhood.
“If I was going to a friend’s house I’d have to map out exactly what we would be doing in my head to make sure that I didn’t come across a dog.”