Linda Colling: Common sense is lacking

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A TWO-year-old girl has her face mauled by a Staffordshire bull terrier, so badly she needed a three hour op and could be scarred for life. And police say “No offences have been committed and that the dog was not dangerously out of control.”

No offences? If a person had done this an offence would most certainly have been committed and action taken. And so, not only does it beggar belief, but begs the question why are we so stupid about animals in this country?

Nine days after the terrifying attack, little Natasha Marriett is far from herself – with a broken nose and her pretty face still a mess.

Her mam, Margaret Baxter, 40, wishes now that she had given the go-ahead for her relation’s dog to be destroyed.

She says: “The police were going to put it down on the night. I just said ‘Leave it.’ I felt crap because it’s a relation’s and I thought it should be their decision. I stopped the police and said I wouldn’t take the bairns there anymore. It’s common sense.”

Common sense is what’s lacking here. And this dog should be destroyed forthwith and for the simple reason that it could do it again. “To be honest, I wouldn’t keep a dog like that. What if it gets out and gets somebody else?” says Margaret, a mother of nine from South Hetton who has a bull mastiff, Sasha and two shih tzus. Nor would I keep such a dangerous animal.

If my German pointer sunk its teeth into anyone it would never get the chance to do the same again. That’s why I hope the owner does the decent thing.

I can see how compromised Margaret felt on the night given it was a relation’s dog. But that’s why the owner has to be responsible and take control of this situation.

“They have absolutely done nothing about the dog. They have done nowt so far,” says Margaret whose daughter is now suffering not only from her injuries but also the trauma of it all, frightened to go out because she’s so self conscious of her face, and nervy if any of the dogs in her house come to lick her. She needed stitches all over her face and inside her mouth. Two teeth were removed to stitch wounds, and she is lucky she is still able to see after the dog sunk its teeth just centimetres from her right eye.

Margaret keeps looking at her daughter’s face and says: “There’s absolutely nothing I can do except hope and pray she gets better and isn’t scarred for life. Doctors have said it’s too early to tell yet what the long-term injuries may be. We’re all just praying at the moment.”

Well, there is one thing Margaret can most certainly do. And that is reconsider the decision she made when in shock and tell the police she wants the dog destroyed.

Her nine-year-old daughter Rachael told me what happened. The sisters were playing in the living room while the owner’s 24-year-old nephew was watching television and Margaret and the owner from Downhill were in the kitchen.

Rachael explained: “Natasha fell off the settee and onto the dog and the dog jumped up and bit her on the face. I was really frightened. I think it should have been put down because we have dogs and if that ever happened we would put ours down.” And so a child is showing more sense than the adults.

Margaret says the dog has “a funny temperament” with other dogs and people. Quite rightly, she has misgivings that she should have ever have left the decision to destroy the dog or not in the owner’s hands.

And now she says: “I’ll give her a couple of days and see what happens.”