'Death Row' dog that attacked woman in Wrexham is given reprieve

Reporter:

Suzanne Roberts

A dog on Death Row has been given a reprieve – but he must behave in future.

Bruno the Staffordshire bull terrier bit a passer-by. He locked his jaws on her leg and would not let go.

He then sunk his teeth through the victim’s boots leaving a puncture wound.

Owner Patricia Glenys Hughes, 48, of Darby Road in Brynteg, Wrexham, previously admitted a charge at the local magistrates’ court of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in February.

At that stage she was given a
12-month conditional discharge with £500 compensation and £85 costs.

But a destruction order was made in respect of Bruno.

Hughes appealed against the destruction order at Mold Crown Court on Friday and the order was suspended.

Judge Niclas Parry, sitting with two magistrates, said the lower court had been right to impose the order.

But the dog had since been castrated, there was a vet’s report about its behaviour since the incident, and additional measures had been taken to ensure he was kept secure.

He said the appeal would be allowed and the destruction order would be suspended on conditions.

The court ruled the dog must not leave the house without being muzzled and must not be within the curtilage of the property or in public without being on a lead or being muzzled.

It also ruled Bruno must not be in a public place in the sole care of Hughes but must be in the care of another adult.

Judge Parry told Hughes to be “very careful in future”.

Proecutor Anna Price said victim Lana Hughes was attacked by the dog as she walked past Hughes’ home at about 3pm on February 2.

Lana Hughes was frightened of the dog following an earlier incident when it was said to have jumped up at her.

Miss Hughes’ mother lived nearby, she said hello to the dog owner but crossed the road when she saw the garden gate was open.

“As she turned away, he ran through the gate and bit her on the right leg, on the calf just above the ankle,” Miss Price explained.

It clamped onto her leg and would not release for one to two minutes as she screamed for help.

The owner approached, the dog released its grip but then bit her through her right boot leaving a puncture mark to the foot.

Miss Price said: “He would not let go until a male approached”.

Bruno was then taken back into the garden.

The victim went to Wrexham Maelor Hospital A&E with a two to three inch gash to her right leg and a puncture wound.

She was given a seven day course of anti-biotics and in a later victim impact statement said that she was unable to sleep, had been in a lot of pain, cried a lot and had since changed her route to visit her mother.

The victim had suffered a panic attack when she saw another Staffie and she had to cut down her hours of work because she could not stand for long because of the injuries.

She may have to wear compressed stockings for the rest of her life and may need a skin graft.

The owner Hughes told police she was shocked and upset by what had happened.

She said her grandchildren were in the house and Bruno had never done anything like that before.

In evidence she told the judge that new gates and fencing had been installed, Bruno had been castrated and micro-chipped and a vet’s report was handed in which described him as well behaved and showing no signs of aggression.

A dog trainer had been instructed and references from people who knew the family and who visited with children were handed in.

Hughes said she had Bruno five years and he was now muzzled and on a lead at all times. Caution signs had been erected.

He could not get out of the house or garden unless a gate was left open and would not be able to jump over the new gate, she said.

On the day in question she went to close the gate but Bruno got out before she could do so. He went towards the lady, she screamed and he bit her.

She believed Bruno had been startled by her screams.

Judge Parry said it was the aggravated form of the offence which meant a destruction order “must” be imposed unless the court was satisfied that the dog did not constitute a danger to public safety.

They had regard to the view of the vet, the fact the dog had since been castrated and the work carried out at the property so that the dog could not leave unless a gate was left open.

“We are of the view that the magistrates were correct to make a destruction order,” he said.

But he agreed to suspend the order on the basis that the conditions now imposed would mean that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety.

“In those circumstances we will not order the immediate destruction of the dog,” Judge Parry explained.

 

Email:

suzanne.roberts@nwn.co.uk

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