A court has ordered the destruction of a dog that bit two adults and two children in a Chippenham park earlier this year.
48-year-old Sarah Hart, of Greenway Lane, appeared at Swindon Magistrates’ Court this morning charged with owning a dog that caused injury whilst dangerously out of control on 16 January.
Crown prosecutor Ben Worthington said the German Sheppard mix named Vasco managed to break free from his lead at John Coles Park, off Malmesbury Road, before biting numerous people in a terrifying 40-minute-long ordeal.
The dog then proceeded towards a couple and their four-year-old child, circling them repeatedly. Hart is said to have told them that “he doesn’t bite” and moments later, he bit the adult female on the buttocks.
Vasco then bites an elderly woman, causing bleeding and bruising before barking loudly and moving on to hurt two young children.
He bit an eight-year-old girl multiple times to the wrist and leg, causing bruising. The incident left her crying hysterically, Mr Worthington exclaimed.
The out-of-control animal goes on to jump up at a nine-year-old boy before biting him between the shoulder blades. He was taken to hospital to receive treatment for his injury.
The dog was eventually brought under control after tiring himself out. Mr Worthington said the prolonged incident was “a scary thing to happen”.
In an interview with police, Hart revealed to investigating officers that Vasco had circled and then ‘nipped’ a woman some months earlier, but the incident was not reported to the police. Sensibly, she brought it upon herself to ensure her pet was muzzled and on a harness in a public place.
Witnesses involved in the incident told police they would not want Vasco to be destroyed if the matter came to court. They expressed support for a contingent destruction order – meaning he would only be put to sleep if the terms of the order were breached.
Defending, Terry McCarthy said his client’s husband (separated) attended her home that unexpectedly to see their children, using his own key to open to door. Vasco “saw his opportunity” and escaped.
Two – of their four children – ran after the dog and managed to stop him. Hart caught up with them, put him on a lead and decided to walk to the park, despite not having muzzled or harnessed Vasco as she would usually.
He said Vasco was a rescue dog acquired in September 2020. Hart was said to have installed new fencing in her back garden to ensure he could not break free and hired a behaviourist.
Mr McCarthy said Hart was most worried about the effect on the youngest of her four children if Vasco were to be destroyed, adding that until today, she had no convictions.
Magistrates imposed a fine of £253 along with costs of £85 and a £34 victim surcharge.
They also ordered the destruction of Vasco, stating they believe he “constitutes a danger to public safety”.
Hart was seen to be visibly upset and distressed in the dock.