Two “vicious” Alsatian dogs attacked and injured a hiker and one, which regularly escaped, ended up in a primary school yard, growling, a court heard.
Burnley magistrates were told how the two German shepherds – Tyson, a “protection dog,” and Lola – charged towards Francis Galpin and sank their teeth into him as he walked on a public footpath at Dam Head Farm, Roughlee.
Mr Galpin, who was enjoying a Sunday afternoon walk, was bitten on the leg and shoulder, left wounded and scarred and suffered flashbacks and “significant distress” after the frightening incident, on June 21st.
The dogs’ owner, construction worker Colin Reid Nutter (47), lives at the farm with his teenage daughter. On June 26th he was sent a warning letter from Pendle Council to muzzle the dogs and secure his property to prevent Tyson getting out. Worried residents had raised concerns about the animal repeatedly escaping and had also complained about the dogs barking at all hours, but when he failed to respond to warnings, Nutter was issued with a full community protection notice on October 5th.
Father-of-two Nutter said he bought the dogs as family pets after he had been burgled and wanted people to know they were there. He admitted two counts of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury. The animals, which he claims got out when his gate was left open, are now facing destruction orders.
The defendant’s solicitor told the hearing Nutter had now followed the orders from the council to muzzle the dogs outside and to take measures to prevent them escaping. Sentence was adjourned until November 23rd, after the justices said they had not had sufficient information regarding containment of the dogs.
Prosecutor Mr Simon Leong told the hearing at about 3-30pm, avid rambler Mr Galpin was about half way up the track when two dogs ran towards him, growling and appearing like they wanted to attack him.
One animal clasped his leg in its jaws and the second jumped up towards his face and bit his left shoulder. The victim then heard a male voice coming from the direction of the farm and both dogs ran back. Mr Galpin said the man appeared and told him “they don’t like hoods,” but the victim didn’t have his hood up and was then accused of hitting the dogs.
“Mr Galpin told him he was going to ring the police. After the call to the police ended, the defendant invited him in for a coffee and offered to pay for the damage to his clothes. He refused, saying he was going to go to hospital.”
Mr Leong said Mr Galpin suffered a wound on his leg which still had not healed five days after and a shoulder wound and had to have an tetanus injection. After the attack, Mr Galpin said he was anxious around other dogs, suffered flashbacks and felt he should see his doctor.
The court was told in February last year, Nutter contacted the police to say Tyson was missing and was vicious. Days later, the animal again escaped and was reported to be in the grounds of Roughlee Primary School, where it growled at teachers when approached.
Mr Richard Taylor (defending) urged the court to make a contingent destruction order. The solicitor said the farm had been burgled twice and expensive plant had been stolen from the yard.
Mr Taylor continued: “In attempts to protect his family and also indeed as pets for his daughter, he purchased the two dogs. He wanted to make sure that people knew they were present at his property and, as many dogs are, these dogs are very protective of their own territory.
“What has gone wrong over the last couple of years, is that Tyson has escaped. The property is all fenced but Mr Nutter tells me people deliver things to him, they leave the gate open and that’s what’s happened.”
Mr Taylor said as soon as Mr Nutter realised what had happened on the day of the attack, he called the dogs back and they immediately went back.
The solicitor said Tyson had got out several times, but this was the first complaint about Lola. The dogs originally lived outside, but barked and there were complaints. They were then put inside and had remained there.
Mr Taylor added: “The defendant is not ignoring what happened. He’s aware of the predicament he has put himself in. He has dealt with this.”
The solicitor said Nutter had told people who worked for him, in no uncertain terms, the gate must not be left open.
“This is a very unfortunate incident, when the gate was left open inadvertently. Given the measures that have been taken now, these dogs no longer pose any threat.”