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Dog which should have been wearing muzzle bit man in north Cumbria village

Carlisle Crown Court

AN elderly dog owner has been handed a suspended jail term after his pet bit a man on a communal pathway in a north Cumbria village.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Walter Keith Miller had received a community protection warning in 2017 after his Patterdale terrier, Sparky, had bitten a male intervening in a struggle between two dogs.

That warning notice prohibited Sparky from being walked in public without a muzzle.

But on July 24 last year, as 77-year-old Miller walked Sparky on a lead down a communal path towards his car in Great Corby, it bit Steven Winthrop, who had just dropped his daughter off at the home of her grandmother – one of Miller’s neighbours.

Sparky initially sank its teeth into the fabric of jeans worn by Mr Winthrop, who sustained two puncture wounds, needed stitches and was also treated with antibiotics.

At the time, Sparky was not wearing its muzzle, which had been left the previous day in the car Miller was heading towards. This was, his barrister Kim Obrusik said, “simply by virtue of forgetfulness”. An eminent expert had concluded in a report that the incident occurred in unique circumstances and was very unlikely to be repeated.

Miller, of The Beeches, Great Corby, admitted being the owner of a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control.

A man of previous good character, he had a four-month prison term suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay Mr Winthrop £480 compensation.

Concluding Miller was a fit and proper person to own a dog, Judge Nicholas Barker imposed a contingent destruction order which means the terrier must be muzzled and on a lead at all times in public places. “Whilst I accept there is a risk element to this dog, I do not find it is a danger,” stated Judge Barker. “I do not see this as flagrant disregard of this warning.”

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