A WOMAN whose life was saved by her cousin and police first aid, but who needed major surgery after her dog mauled her, faces the prospect of being sent behind bars.

Police were called to an incident in Golf Link Road, Sandown, following reports of a dog dangerously out of control on the night of July 19 last year.

Reports were of a Staffordshire bull terrier and Rhodesian ridgeback cross, called Rusty, which had attacked and dragged his owner, Charlotte Harriet Louise Mathers, to the ground in the middle of the road.

When officers arrived, they saw an Audi A4 parked up to help, in the middle of the road, with blood down the front and sides of the vehicle, with Mathers, her cousin Lachen Downs and the car's owners, James and Julie Spratley inside it — and the dog circling the vehicle, "fixated on it", said Liz Miller, prosecuting, at the Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court this afternoon (Tuesday).

Police initially tried to run the dog over, but failed, so armed response officers took the decision to fire five shots to destroy the dog.

Armed officers then swarmed the scene and gave first aid to Mathers and Mr Downs, whose injuries were initially treated as life threatening.

"Both had very serious injuries. Due to the horrific extent of her injuries, Mathers was rushed to Salisbury District Hospital, while Mr Downs, not as seriously injured, was taken to St Mary's Hospital, Newport," explained Miss Miller.

"Mathers was in the car on top of Mrs Spratley, in and out of consciousness. Officers had to apply a tourniquet to her arm to stop the bleeding.

"Mr Downs was in the car on top of Mr Spratley. His clothes were ripped and his trousers had been pulled down."

Mathers required three operations in the space of five days to totally reconstruct her left arm and has suffered extensive, permanent nerve damage to it, the court was told.

It later came to light Mr Downs had saved Mathers from further serious injury by rugby tackling the dog, which allowed her to run to the Audi for safety.

For his bravery, Mr Downs suffered extensive flesh wounds to his face and limbs, with a chunk missing from his arm, having wrestled the dog to the ground.

"It was felt Mr Downs had probably saved Mathers's life that day," said Miss Miller.

He managed to make good his escape from the animal, to the Audi, but as the four occupants made a 999 call, police could hear their panic at being unable to close the car door, fearing the dog could get in.

In their police statement, the Spratleys said while driving, they saw the dog jump up at Mathers, thinking it was at play — but were then shocked to see the dog pull her to the ground and drag her.

Mr Spratley said when Mr Downs initially ran off to get help, he tried to pull the dog off Mathers, but then retreated to his car in fear the dog would turn on him.

Mathers, 43, of Jellicoe Road, Ryde, admitted being a person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control.

She told the police she believed another dog caused unmuzzled Rusty problems, which sparked the attacks.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Downs said: "Since the incident, I have felt insecure and afraid of other animals. I don't like going out on my own anymore.

"I feel insecure because of the injuries I've received and that as a result of my scarring, I will be unable to work, due to my mental health.

"I want to provide for my family and do the right thing, but because of this, I feel less of a man."

For Mathers, James Cameron said his client has had many dogs and raised them throughout her life, so was shocked by what happened.

"She never had an incident like that with any of her dogs before," said Mr Cameron.

"She decided on this occasion to take Rusty out on a rope, without a harness, but it was an absolute shock to her the way he suddenly behaved.

"Rusty was spooked by another dog, but they were unable to calm him. A dog can suddenly go out of control — and it did that day.

"The person who suffered most that day was her. It was a one-off incident and she is sorry for the injuries caused to Mr Downs."

President magistrate, Keith Jones, told Mathers because of the seriousness of the attacks, the extent of the injuries the animal caused and her lack of control over it, the bench's sentencing powers were insufficient to punish her.

Mathers will reappear for sentencing at the Isle of Wight Crown Court on March 12.