Downham fox attack: Dennie Dolan's mother says fox saw her son as 'chicken to eat'

Dennie Dolan pictured after his operation at Evelina Children’s Hospital

Dennie's parents Paul Dolan and Hayley Cawley

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

THE mother of baby Dennie Dolan who had his finger bitten off by a fox has told how the animal saw her son ‘as a piece of 10lb chicken to eat’.

Hayley Cawley, 28, kicked and hit the fox as it tried to pull her screaming son from the family home in Downham.

Ms Cawley had left the five-week-old boy propped up on a sofa after his feed and went upstairs to tidy up but came running back downstairs when she heard screaming.

She told The Sun: “The fox had Dennie’s left hand in its jaws. Dennie’s head was covered in blood and it was running down his cheeks.

“His head was lodged in the corner of the door frame and the fox couldn’t get him out of the door.

“I kicked it hard but it wouldn’t let go. I was scared it would sink its teeth in even further so I lashed out at it with my hand and kept hitting it.

“I was screaming, ‘Help me!’ I got hold of Dennie’s wrist and I tore it out of the fox’s mouth.

“If I’d got there a few seconds later my baby would have been out of the door and I might never have seen him again.

“The fox would have found a way of getting him out of that door.

"It saw Dennie as a 10lb piece of chicken to eat.”

She says she thought her baby was going to die because there was so much blood.

In the ambulance on the way to the trauma unit at King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill she says they showed her his ring finger had turned blue and was almost severed.

News Shopper: Dennie's parents Paul Dolan and Hayley Cawley

He was transferred to Evelina Children’s Hospital for surgery where Ms Cawley and her partner Paul Dolan (pictured above) endured an agonising five-hour wait while surgeons tried to save their son’s finger.

The fox grabbed him after it got in through the front door of the family home in Dagonet Road.

Mr Dolan had left earlier to collect older children Ellouise, nine, and five-year-old Lee from school and had slammed the door shut behind him.

But Ms Cawley believes the latch did not catch properly so the fox was able to get into the house.

Too scared to return home

The family is now said to be too scared to return to their home and are currently in temporary housing and Ms Cawley says she will never go back to the old house.

And she says foxes are constantly prowling the area.

She said: “There are always foxes hanging around there, even during the day because people keep dumping rubbish on the green.

“I’ve seen pieces of raw meat left out on the ground where people have dumped their waste.

“I used to be one of those who says foxes are harmless wild animals that are more frightened of us than we are of them.

“Now I think something should be done to get rid of foxes around people’s houses. “If a dog had done this it would have been destroyed.

“But that fox is still out there and could do this again. I’d hate this to happen to another child.”

Comments (16)

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12:42pm Wed 13 Feb 13

PaulErith says...

Obviously feel sorry for the baby and parents involved in this extremely rare incident, but please News Shoppers, do you not think we've had enough separate articles about this now. It appears that someone at the paper has it in for foxes, but lets try to keep an impartial and balanced view and not over react.
Obviously feel sorry for the baby and parents involved in this extremely rare incident, but please News Shoppers, do you not think we've had enough separate articles about this now. It appears that someone at the paper has it in for foxes, but lets try to keep an impartial and balanced view and not over react. PaulErith
  • Score: 0

12:50pm Wed 13 Feb 13

MJB says...

Left a 5 week old 'propped up on the sofa' while she went upstairs? Jesus. Take the boy with you! If the door didn't properly shut, this is what can happen. Or he could somehow fall to one side, maybe flat on his face? These things happen if left unattended for any length of time. My daughter never left our sight, even indoors, at that early age. She pretty much doesn't even now.
Left a 5 week old 'propped up on the sofa' while she went upstairs? Jesus. Take the boy with you! If the door didn't properly shut, this is what can happen. Or he could somehow fall to one side, maybe flat on his face? These things happen if left unattended for any length of time. My daughter never left our sight, even indoors, at that early age. She pretty much doesn't even now. MJB
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Wed 13 Feb 13

TIGGY-LEWISHAM says...

MJB... exactly left baby propped up, on the tv news, they said fox got in as the back door was still broken... now its the front door never closed after the dad left.... looks like she making dad take blame here! on tv news, he was in cot... the mother doesn't want to return to the family home.. why ? the child never died.. weird story, all different versions. just be more careful in future about closing doors.
MJB... exactly left baby propped up, on the tv news, they said fox got in as the back door was still broken... now its the front door never closed after the dad left.... looks like she making dad take blame here! on tv news, he was in cot... the mother doesn't want to return to the family home.. why ? the child never died.. weird story, all different versions. just be more careful in future about closing doors. TIGGY-LEWISHAM
  • Score: 0

1:15pm Wed 13 Feb 13

RoseinJune says...

The fox manages to get in but couldn't get out of the door with the baby so how come there was blood on the doorstep outside? It's all very confusing.
The fox manages to get in but couldn't get out of the door with the baby so how come there was blood on the doorstep outside? It's all very confusing. RoseinJune
  • Score: 0

1:56pm Wed 13 Feb 13

TIGGY-LEWISHAM says...

ROSEINJUNE.... very strange, I agree.. and please tell me why over weekend was it made such huge national news ?
ROSEINJUNE.... very strange, I agree.. and please tell me why over weekend was it made such huge national news ? TIGGY-LEWISHAM
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Wed 13 Feb 13

Eagles_Man says...

I think it's time for a cull on 'fox' 'attack' stories - this is the fifth in the NS in the last week - until some genuinely new facts come to light.
I think it's time for a cull on 'fox' 'attack' stories - this is the fifth in the NS in the last week - until some genuinely new facts come to light. Eagles_Man
  • Score: 0

3:01pm Wed 13 Feb 13

patwoodhouse says...

Dear God why don't this odious twosome disappear? They've got a feature in The Sun today (paid handsomely for no doubt), new accommodation (paid by the taxpayer) and their son is recovering well (again, all costs met by the NHS).

And they haven't had to pay for as much as a single nail to mend that front door!!

Disgraceful shower, the pair of them.
Dear God why don't this odious twosome disappear? They've got a feature in The Sun today (paid handsomely for no doubt), new accommodation (paid by the taxpayer) and their son is recovering well (again, all costs met by the NHS). And they haven't had to pay for as much as a single nail to mend that front door!! Disgraceful shower, the pair of them. patwoodhouse
  • Score: 1

3:12pm Wed 13 Feb 13

Colin.smith says...

All foxes need to be culled !!
All foxes need to be culled !! Colin.smith
  • Score: 1

3:17pm Wed 13 Feb 13

RoseinJune says...

Colin.smith wrote:
All foxes need to be culled !!
Cllr Smith..? No way!!!!
[quote][p][bold]Colin.smith[/bold] wrote: All foxes need to be culled !![/p][/quote]Cllr Smith..? No way!!!! RoseinJune
  • Score: 1

3:22pm Wed 13 Feb 13

RoseinJune says...

TIGGY-LEWISHAM wrote:
ROSEINJUNE.... very strange, I agree.. and please tell me why over weekend was it made such huge national news ?
It's been the biggest fox news ever..I wonder why myself! Hmmm..
[quote][p][bold]TIGGY-LEWISHAM[/bold] wrote: ROSEINJUNE.... very strange, I agree.. and please tell me why over weekend was it made such huge national news ?[/p][/quote]It's been the biggest fox news ever..I wonder why myself! Hmmm.. RoseinJune
  • Score: 1

4:19pm Wed 13 Feb 13

Colin.smith says...

@roseinjune you need to learn to read im not a councillor ! these foxes need to be sorted, i spose your the one feeding them and encouraging them into the area .
@roseinjune you need to learn to read im not a councillor ! these foxes need to be sorted, i spose your the one feeding them and encouraging them into the area . Colin.smith
  • Score: 1

4:28pm Wed 13 Feb 13

Marty1979 says...

Eagles_Man wrote:
I think it's time for a cull on 'fox' 'attack' stories - this is the fifth in the NS in the last week - until some genuinely new facts come to light.
Definately! The NS seems to have nothing but variations on the same story
[quote][p][bold]Eagles_Man[/bold] wrote: I think it's time for a cull on 'fox' 'attack' stories - this is the fifth in the NS in the last week - until some genuinely new facts come to light.[/p][/quote]Definately! The NS seems to have nothing but variations on the same story Marty1979
  • Score: 1

12:04am Thu 14 Feb 13

treesrgreen says...

Have heard that the odious couple will be on ITV's Daybreak programme Thursday - still glorifying in their 15 mins of fame.

Bet the interviewer doesn't ask why has your story been changing on a daily basis?
Have heard that the odious couple will be on ITV's Daybreak programme Thursday - still glorifying in their 15 mins of fame. Bet the interviewer doesn't ask why has your story been changing on a daily basis? treesrgreen
  • Score: 1

2:33am Thu 14 Feb 13

Dognoz says...

First we hear that a finger is bitten clean off and then it was downgraded to "badly injured". Then differing versions: “His head was lodged in the corner of the door frame and the fox couldn’t get him out of the door. I kicked it hard but it wouldn’t let go..." quoted in this article. However, in the 13th Feb Evening Standard edit, the quote was "She hit and kicked the fox as it dragged her son..... TOWARDS the front door" . Equally strange is that after the hitting and kicking - the same fox apparently chose to revisit the same doorstep above all others. Is this creative journalism in action? We do however have a worsening rubbish problem - and if the foxes were not gorging on half-eaten takeaways etc., it would be the rodents. Bring back the 'Tidy Britain' campaign for a start!
First we hear that a finger is bitten clean off and then it was downgraded to "badly injured". Then differing versions: “His head was lodged in the corner of the door frame and the fox couldn’t get him out of the door. I kicked it hard but it wouldn’t let go..." [implying that the fox was on the doorstep at the time] quoted in this article. However, in the 13th Feb Evening Standard edit, the quote was "She hit and kicked the fox as it dragged her son..... TOWARDS the front door" [suggesting that it was in the corridor]. Equally strange is that after the hitting and kicking - the same fox apparently chose to revisit the same doorstep above all others. Is this creative journalism in action? We do however have a worsening rubbish problem - and if the foxes were not gorging on half-eaten takeaways etc., it would be the rodents. Bring back the 'Tidy Britain' campaign for a start! Dognoz
  • Score: 1

5:57am Thu 14 Feb 13

JuliaM says...

PaulErith wrote:
Obviously feel sorry for the baby and parents involved in this extremely rare incident, but please News Shoppers, do you not think we've had enough separate articles about this now. It appears that someone at the paper has it in for foxes, but lets try to keep an impartial and balanced view and not over react.
We've had almost as many articles as this family has stories about what actually happened!
[quote][p][bold]PaulErith[/bold] wrote: Obviously feel sorry for the baby and parents involved in this extremely rare incident, but please News Shoppers, do you not think we've had enough separate articles about this now. It appears that someone at the paper has it in for foxes, but lets try to keep an impartial and balanced view and not over react.[/p][/quote]We've had almost as many articles as this family has stories about what actually happened! JuliaM
  • Score: 0

8:22am Thu 14 Feb 13

TIGGY-LEWISHAM says...

they just been on daybreak, with another version.... baby was screaming now, and she run down stairs.. and it was the front door that the council fixed & made loose, that's how it never shut when he closed it, not slammed it!! even the council/housing association said they fixed back door... notice how she never told nation how she left baby propped up on sofa while she went upstairs though! WEIRD,
they just been on daybreak, with another version.... baby was screaming now, and she run down stairs.. and it was the front door that the council fixed & made loose, that's how it never shut when he closed it, not slammed it!! even the council/housing association said they fixed back door... notice how she never told nation how she left baby propped up on sofa while she went upstairs though! WEIRD, TIGGY-LEWISHAM
  • Score: 1

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