Thalia lost her arm in a savage dog attack as she played in a family friend’s backyard.
Thalia was visiting family friends in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Valentine when the dog, an Alaskan malamute, stuck its head through a gap in the fence no bigger than 20 centimetres and grabbed her by the finger, and pulled her arm under the fence.
“She sat there for two or three minutes by herself, pinned against the fence, while the dog ate her arm,” her father, Randall Standley, said.
It is believed Thalia sat on a retaining wall, her back to a neighbouring fence, hands resting behind her, waiting for her two friends. When the dog poked it’s head through the fence and grabbed her hand.
“She said that she had to keep quiet and still, because then the dog would sit on her arm and be calm,” Mr Standley said.
“It just sat there and chewed.”
“If she moved her arm, it grabbed it and ripped and tore and pulled.”
“At first she screamed, but she said she had to stop because that was so much worse than when it went back to eating her hand.”
Thalia said “If that fence wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Thalia’s friend ran to tell her dad that Thalia had caught her hand on something.
“I expected to see her hand caught in the car door,” Mr Kidd said.
“She was sobbing, and I went to pick her up and something sort of pulled her back,” he said.
“I thought, ‘What the bloody hell is that?’ I couldn’t hear growling or anything.”
He looked under the fence and saw that the dog had her hand in its mouth.
“I’m punching it in its mouth, just trying to make it let go, but it wasn’t,” he said.
“I had my arm around her as I’m doing it, and I felt her sort of come back towards me.
“I thought, ‘You beauty, it’s let go.’ I picked her up, and realised it hadn’t let go.”
“At the beginning you wake up and you hope every day, you know, that it will get better, it will get back to what it was,” Mr Standley said.
“But it doesn’t. There is no back to what it was … this is now our baseline, and this is what we work from.”
All three of the Standleys’ other children, including Jacob, 16, have been affected emotionally.
“I’ve told them to be angry, to be sad, to be confused; it’s all normal,” Mrs Standley said.
“You won’t find another person who lives in suburbia where they’ve had their sister’s arm chewed off by a dog.”
Thalia’s positive attitude is helping the family through their grief.
“She’s guiding us,” Mrs Standley said.
“You let her guide you, you don’t try and wrap her up in cotton wool because she was a really independent, determined little girl anyway [but] she’s become even more independent as far as ‘don’t tell me I can’t do something’.
“She’s a very special girl, with a lot of pride, and a great sense of humour.”
“If you’re a dog owner, for God’s sake, check your fences, because it doesn’t take much of a gap,” he said.
The Standley family are seeking support to help with the financial burden associated with the cost of Thalia’s medical bills which include the cost of of a prosthetic arm.
The online fundraising campaign can be viewed on the Reaching Thalia website.
Share your thoughts below.