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(Updated 17/4/01)

Staffie survives being hit by speeding train

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Charlie had a miraculous escape when she was hit by a high-speed train.

The eight year-old dog was being walked by her owner Amanda Bere and her two children when she slipped her lead and strayed onto the nearby railway line at Hassocks, Sussex. She was struck by a London to Brighton express train travelling at high speed and thrown several yards along the embankment.

Amanda, of Hurtspierpoint, West Sussex said: "It all happened so quickly. Normally Charlie is really good but on this occasion she slipped her lead and the next thing I remember was glancing around and seeing the train approaching."

Frantic

At first Amanda thought the dog was over the other side of the track, but when the train had passed, Charlie was nowhere to be seen. After a frantic search, they found her 20 yards along the track with a large shoulder wound.

Charlie was rushed to a nearby veterinary surgery in Haywards Heath where she was treated for shock and pain.

Vet Mary Mahon initially didn't hold out much hope for Charlie. "I remember thinking that her chances were slim and when she actually came into the surgery I thought she had less than a 50 per cent chance of pulling through," said Mary. "But Charlie is obviously a fighter and she did pull through."

Once Charlie had been stabilised, she was transferred to the Royal Veterinary College in London for an operation to insert a metal plate in her damaged shoulder.

Since then, Charlie has been kept off her feet in order to rest, but is expected to be back to normal quite soon.

It would appear that being a Staffy saved Charlie's life. Amanda said: "Staffies are quite muscular and the vets said that this was in her favour. Since the accident I have heard of six dogs which have already been killed on that stretch of railway track, so her strength obviously saved her.

"The vet and the animal nurses were amazing in repairing her injuries. I can't believe she wasn't killed."