American Pitbull terrier-style dogs face destruction after 'horror movie' Sunderland attack on third dog
Two American Pitbull terrier-style dogs which killed another dog after they were accidentally let loose by decorators are facing destruction.
A witness bravely used a metal pole to hit the pair after they “viciously attacked” a Cairn terrier while it was out for walk on a lead with its elderly keeper.
The wounded dog, called Macy Manhattan, died nearly a week later from its injuries after its owners spent nearly £7,800 in veterinary bills in a bid to save her.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told that the owner of the dogs, Mark French, of Burdon Lane, Ryhope, Sunderland, was initially arrested after up to 15 police officers visited his flat.
But the criminal investigation ended after it emerged that Mr French was not at home during the attack and that the dogs had been accidentally let out by decorators.
Northumbria Police have now succeeded in a civil application to have the pitbull terrier-type dogs, named Floyd and Lola, destroyed on the grounds that they posed “a high risk to the public”.
Their fate is pending the outcome of an appeal lodged immediately by Mr French’s solicitor.
Outlining the police’s case, Nicholas Wirz told the court: “These dogs are responsible for a very significant attack on another dog.
"The dog suffered fatal injuries and the dog’s keeper, the elderly lady, was and is traumatised. It has been very horrific to bear for Macy’s family.”
Macy belonged to relatives of her keeper and was staying with her as company during the pandemic when the attack took place on June 12 last year.
Her keeper said afterwards in a police statement: “The injuries they were inflicting were horrific. It like something from a horror movie.”
Another witness said: “I have never seen anything like this before. I still think of the incident on a daily basis.”
Mr Wirz said Mr French’s previous convictions for failing to surrender to custody and dishonesty offences meant that he could not be guaranteed to abide by a contingency order, which would have placed legal restrictions on how Floyd and Lola were controlled.
He added: “These dogs could escape again and cause large scale harm to the public, causing harm to dogs as well as humans.”
Yet Jason Smith, representing Mr French, said the dogs did not belong to a banned breed, had never harmed people and behaved themselves when police arrived to seize them.
Describing them as “loving and controlled”, he continued: “There is no reason to put these dogs to sleep.
"There is no evidence that these dogs, save for this one unfortunate incident, have ever caused any trouble whatsoever.”
Ordering Floyd and Lola’s destruction, chairman of the bench Christopher Graham said the dogs posed “such a danger to society that there are no contingencies we can put in place to protect public safety”.
He added: “We are saddened by this tragic case and pass on our condolences on to Macy’s family.”
The dogs will remain in kennels pending the appeal outcome.
Speaking afterwards, Mr French, 26, said: “I feel sorry for what my dogs have done. But dog on dog is natural.
"They have never harmed anyone and have been brought up around people.
"There was about 15 police officers in my house on the day and the dogs were 100% okay.”