Dog attack owner back in court on animal cruelty charge

Sarah Knutsen
Sarah Knutsen
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A PET owner has been back in court on an animal cruelty charge just three months after she was convicted in connection with a dog attack on a jogger.

Owner of five Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Sarah Jayne Knutsen, 38, claims she was unable to afford veterinary treatment when two of her dogs were injured while fighting each other.

She has now admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a male dog called Ty, and failing to ensure the welfare of female canine Ruby, between September 9 and September 23 last year.

When RSPCA inspectors visited her home in Romney Avenue, Columbia, Washington, they found five-year-old Ty confined to a small area behind the back door, Sunderland magistrates heard.

RSPCA prosecutor Denise Jackman said the black and white Staffie was of low body weight and had a swollen left front leg and was “covered in wounds”.

“He had numerous puncture wounds on his leg and would not bear weight on it,” Mrs Jackman said, adding he also had “several wounds” to his head and ears.

A second dog, a black Staffie called Ruby, had scratches and puncture wounds to the face and also had wounds to her ears and legs.

“Both dogs had injuries requiring veterinary intervention,” Mrs Jackman said. “The dogs were regularly fighting and had to be separated until a long-term solution could be found.”

Mrs Jackman said Ty was “clearly suffering” and that Ruby was likely to suffer if the environment did not change.

The conviction comes after Knutsen admitted two counts of being in charge of a dog causing injury while dangerously out of control in November.

Two of Knutsen’s other dogs, Little Fella and Bull’s Eye, turned on Gary Addison as he was out running in Biddick Lane, in Fatfield in October.

The one-year-old Staffies knocked the victim to the ground and dragged him around as he tried to fight them off, leaving him bleeding from wounds to his calf, thigh, buttock and back.

Knutsen was ordered to pay him £600 in compensation, and the bench ordered that the dogs involved be destroyed, however, that decision was turned over on appeal last month.

“The defendant is a dog lover, an animal lover,” said Richard Roger, defending. “She has had Ty since he was a puppy.

“She looked after him, and gave him everything he wanted, but she is a bit strapped for cash and vet’s fees are expensive.

“Ruby was her daughter’s dog. Sarah ended up looking after the dog. Ty and Ruby had puppies. Two of the three were Little Fella and Bull’s Eye.

“Five dogs is an awful lot to have in any home.

“The relationship between these dogs deteriorated. Ruby attacked Ty and they would fight each other.

“She has quite clearly tried to heal the wounds. She couldn’t afford the vet’s fees. She’s tried her best, but her best wasn’t good enough.”

Mr Roger added that Knutsen had tried to contact the RSPCA for help, but could not get through.

The bench asked the Probation Service to prepare a report on Knutsen and warned her that all options, including custody, would be open to the sentencing bench on March 3.