Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Labrador should be put down, says bite victim

A WOMAN whose arm was ripped open by a dog says the animal should have been put down.

A WOMAN whose arm was ripped open by a dog says the animal should have been put down.

Sarah Funnell needed surgery after she was attacked by Charlie, a two-year-old black Labrador (pictured with Anne Bergin), on May 11.

His owner, Andrew Middleton, pleaded guilty to allowing his dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place and cause injury when he appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

No order was made to destroy the dog after he produced evidence that his dog is placid.

Middleton, 45, of Cleeve Down, Goring, was issued with a contingent destruction order, which means the dog must be kept under proper control or face being destroyed. He was also ordered to pay £750 in compensation and £85 in court costs.

Mrs Funnell, of Milldown Road, Goring, was attacked as she was walking her Welsh terrier puppy, Ted, in Cow Hill, accompanied by her nine-year-old son Jack and a friend. Middleton was also walking in the area with his two Labradors when Charlie set upon Ted.

Mrs Funnell, 50, picked her dog up and was holding him in both arms when the Labrador attacked her and bit her left arm.

Afterwards, she told the Henley Standard: “The dog just jumped up. He didn’t even come to get Ted, who was on my right, he jumped up to my left side and bit me. I screamed.

“I was hysterical and was hyperventilating. It was horrible — I had these two young boys with me who were more distressed than I was. They saw the dog jump up but it was my screaming that upset them.”

She had to make her way home with her arm bleeding and in severe pain and she later needed surgery.

This week, she said she felt “gutted and absolutely devasted” that the court didn’t order the dog to be destroyed.

“If it was my own dog I would have been horrified,” she said. “I would have taken it away to be destroyed myself because I couldn’t live with the worry of it doing it again.

“The owner has got away very lightly and I just think it is so wrong. How would everybody feel if it happened again?”

Mrs Funnell, a gardener, has been unable to work since the incident. She still feels pain in her arm and is unable to hold her dog’s lead with her injured arm.

She said: “Ted is my first dog and I have thought that perhaps if I hadn’t got him it wouldn’t have happened but you can’t think like that. I just hope I never see him [Middleton] and his dog again.”

Middleton and his partner, Anne Bergin, claimed Charlie was not dangerous.

Mrs Bergin, a teacher, said: “It was a really unfortunate accident but we feel that Charlie is not an aggressive dog.

“He has never done anything in his life, so it was certainly a one-off.”

She said her 20-year-old daughter, Christina, who has moderate learning difficulties, adored their pet.

“He’s a really soft, soppy dog and a very much loved family pet.”

The couple also own a 10-year-old golden Labrador, Chloe, four cats, four horses and a rabbit.

“We are responsible pet owners, which makes the whole incident even more upsetting,” said Mrs Bergin.

The couple have not walked their dogs in Cow Hill since the incident and Charlie now wears a muzzle.

Middleton, a builder, said: “It’s been a long three months and quite stressful. I’m glad it is all over, to be honest.”

“I was completely shocked when it happened because Charlie had never done anything like that before. It all happened so quickly.”

The couple commissioned a report by dog behaviourist Dr Candy D’Sa which was presented in court and described Charlie as an “extremely friendly yet placid dog who has clearly been very well socialised”.

Helen Windass, a vet at Goring veterinary centre, also gave evidence of the dog’s good character.

The terms of the order state that Charlie must be fitted with a muzzle and securely held on a lead by a person who is at least 16.

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