A WOMAN from Pembroke appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (Oct 11) to admit a charge of owning a dog which was dangerously out of control in July 2017, leading to two people she had known for many years getting injured.
Linzi Marie James of Whitehall Avenue conceded that it was her Jack Russell cross, called Toddy, which injured her two neighbours contrary to section 31 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
The offence carries a sentence of up to six months in jail, and the bench have said they will consider all options for sentence.
Prosecutor Vaughan Prichard Jones told the court that the incident happened at around midday. Both neighbours were at home with their husbands in the small cul-de-sac where they live, and both ladies became aware independently that there were three dogs running around outside.
Mr Pritchard Jones said: “The first victim was concerned that the dogs may run into her garage so she went out the front of the house. One of the dogs went in and she tried to shoo the dog. The dog came for her, teeth showing, she felt contact, the dog grazed her but had not bit her. In her attempt to get away, she fell backwards and this caused a fracture in her shoulder.
“The dog then ran across the road and the other neighbour says she then felt a bite to her leg. I have to say it was a very nasty bite. The dog took a chunk out of her leg. She had to have a skin graft. She says that since the operation her mobility has been severely restricted. She says that three weeks after the incident she can only walk a short distance and cannot drive: ‘I have to keep my leg elevated, if not it just aches’. She says that looking back at it all, ‘I didn’t have a fear of dogs but now I do’.”
“My main fear is what could have happened had it been a child,” one of the complainants said in their Victim Impact Statement.
James was interviewed about how the dog got out and she said a friend of hers put a stack of pallets near her fence, which she thought the dogs used to jump the fence.
It was the one dog, the Jack Russell, responsible on both occasions, the court heard.
“The prosecution seeks a destruction order for the dog due to the nature of the injuries. My friend will oppose that and we have no objection for the case being adjourned for that to be decided at a later hearing,” added Mr Pritchard Jones.
Katie Hanson, defending, said that her client was devastated by what had happened.
“She is so remorseful. The complainants are neighbours who she has known her entire life. She has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. We will be asking for an adjournment. She has looked after the dog for a long time, he is 10 years of age. She is a lady who has a number of dogs. She has fostered dogs and kittens for rescue centres. Nothing of this nature has ever happened before. The night this happened the fence was extended in the front garden to make sure that this will never happen again. There has been no problem with the dog since this happened in July,” Ms Hanson continued.
“We have instructed a behaviourist to help us to oppose the destruction of the dog, and we will provide evidence at the next hearing. I have not received the complainant’s statements – we haven’t received that yet so there is still work to be done. I think it is important we have all the evidence before we can make a decision of this nature.”
At the end of the hearing it was decided the case would be adjourned. The Chair of the bench said: “We are happy to put the matter back, and we need an all options pre-sentence report. We are looking at all sentencing options in this case.”
The case to decide the sentence for Linzi James and the future of her dog, Toddy, will be decided on October 31.