A gamekeeper’s dog that attacked a mother and child is to be destroyed by order of a court.
Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday that a four-year-old girl would likely be left with scarring as a result of the attack, which had left her parents feeling “helpless”.
Trevor Edwards, 50, of Sudbury Road, Bures St Mary, pleaded guilty to two charges of owning a dog that caused injury while dangerously out of control.
Prosecutor Ian Devine said a woman was driving along Sudbury Road with her two children when, at around 5.30pm on September 14, she came across a dog sitting in the middle of the road.
She stopped, expecting the dog to move, but when it did not, she opened her car door and got out.
The dog, a Lakeland terrier called Eddie, approached her car and jumped into the driver’s seat.
It “appeared well behaved” but was not wearing a collar, so the mother left it with her 12-year-old son and four-year-old daughter while she went to ask nearby residents if they knew who it belonged to.
“She wasn’t gone far or for long, but it seems that as soon as she left the car, the dog turned its attention to the children,” said Mr Devine.
It jumped into the front passenger foot well and began “snarling” at the girl, who became frightened and tried to get away.
“Unfortunately the dog attacked her, biting and scratching her, mainly to the bottom area and her legs, as she tried to scramble to the seats where her brother was sitting,” he said.
The mother heard her son’s screams and ran back to the car where she dragged her daughter out, hoping to get her to safety.
But the attack continued with the dog jumping up and “literally hanging from her bottom in mid air”.
The mother was also attacked after losing her balance and falling to the floor, said Mr Devine.
He told the court that Edwards had accepted responsibility for his dog’s escape as he had failed to secure his garage doors properly.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the mother said she felt she had put her children at risk by trying to be a “good Samaritan”.
She said the attack had put a strain on her marriage and the whole family had been referred for counselling. The court heard that her daughter now had problems sleeping.
In mitigation, Nicola Pope said her client had organised shoots his whole adult life and had kept 17 dogs without as much as a blemish on his record.
She said he was new to the area and, at the time of the incident, had been waiting for his employer to repair fencing at his property, which had now been finished.
Miss Pope said Eddie was a family pet as well as a working dog and that his owner had gone looking for him immediately after discovering he was missing.
“In terms of his culpability, it could never have been envisaged by Mr Edwards that his dog would be placed in a car without adult supervision,” she said.
She added: “We don’t know what happened in that vehicle. What we do know is that when [the mother] left the vehicle, the dog was calm and placid and was being fussed by her children.”
Edwards was ordered to pay compensation of £1,500 to the girl, £300 to her mother and £200 to her brother, as well as court costs of £85.
Magistrates also ordered the destruction of the dog, a decision Edwards has 28 days to appeal.