THE owner of a dangerously out of control dog has appeared in court after the animal bit a seven-year-old girl’s face, leaving her needing ‘extensive’ surgery.
James Palmer of Dent Close, Worcester, admitted being the owner/person in charge of a dangerously out of control dog (a Rottweiler) which caused injury when he appeared before magistrates in Worcester today (Thursday).
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The child was mauled by the 31-year-old’s Rottweiler, which was on a lead at the time, in Dent Close on April 11 last year.
There is an application to make a destruction order where the dog would be put down. The case is likely to cause more discussion about the risks posed to children by dogs.
We have previously reported upon an unconnected case when two-year-old Lawson Bond died after he sustained serious injuries at his home in Egdon on Monday, March 28 following an attack by Rottweilers.
Duty solicitor Jo Outhwaite said the dog liaison officer who had made the report on Palmer’s dog had not explored alternatives including a contingent destruction order which may involve, for example, muzzling the animal in public or keeping it indoors at times when children are leaving school.
Shivali Patel, prosecuting, said the attack happened at 2pm and was witnessed by a woman sitting on her balcony.
Two girls were outside – one older girl aged between 10 and 12 and the other, the victim, estimated by this witness to be between five and seven. The older girl had been holding two ice creams, one presumably for the younger girl, the court heard.
Mrs Patel; said: “The younger girl started to walk towards the dog and she (the witness) saw the dog turn on the small child, biting her head and her face. She saw the child grab her face and walk back towards her friend, crying. The defendant asked the girl ‘has he bitten you?'”
Police arrived. “It took several attempts to get the defendant out of his groundfloor flat. Eventually, he handed over the Rottweiler. It was seized and brought to the police van” said Mrs Patel.
In interview, Palmer said he had had the dog since he was a puppy and he had been on a leash with a harness at the time of the attack.
Palmer said the victim had been stroking the dog when ‘the dog attempted to take the ice cream from the child, not bite the child’. Palmer told officers it was ‘just an accident’ and that ‘he took a long time to come to the door because he feared the dog would be put down’.
Photos of the child’s injuries, including a bite mark to the child’s cheek, were shown to magistrates. Mrs Patel said: “The victim is seven-years-old and has had to have extensive surgery for this injury. It is suspected she may need to have future surgery.”
Palmer had no previous convictions. The dog has been in kennels since the attack.
Jo Outhwaite, defending, asked sentence to be adjourned. She accepted it was one of the most serious cases on the basis of the severity of the injuries.
However, she said the dog had been on a leash at the time and had not displayed any aggressive behaviour prior to this. Mrs Outhwaite also argued consideration should be given to other options than destruction.
She said this recommendation by the dog liaison officer for the dog’s destruction was ‘a huge leap’, made on the basis of ‘a brief conversation with kennel staff’ who had not been identified.
The case was adjourned until June 24 to get more information from the officer. Palmer was granted unconditional bail.