Dog bit pensioner and exposed bone, court hears

Burnley Magistrates Court
Burnley Magistrates Court

A pensioner had to have a skin graft after a Rottweiler sank its teeth into his arm, causing a wound so deep it exposed the bone, a court heard.

The dog, called Tyson, bit a large piece of skin from 73-year-old Michael Titterton, leaving him in agony, shocked, shaking and bleeding heavily.

The animal attacked him on Birchenlee Lane, in Colne, as it was being walked on a lead by it’s owner Peter Ward. The victim had just left a friend’s house and was walking to his car across the road when the dog suddenly leapt up at him.

Burnley magistrates were told Ward (58) claimed two terriers ran from the house and were “yelping and screaming”, jumping all over Tyson in a “melee” and the dog may have thought it was “under attack”.

The bench decided that Tyson, which Ward has owned for seven or eight years, and which was not removed from him by the police, will not be put down. However, he must now be muzzled whenever out in public.

Unemployed Ward, who lives in a caravan on Birchenlee Lane, admitted being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control, causing injury, on July 20th.

He was fined £80, with a £30 victim surcharge and £85 costs and must pay the victim £200 compensation. The justices made a general control order, under which Ward must walk the Rottweiler on a lead and fully muzzle it at all times in public.

Prosecutor Mr Andrew Robinson told the court the victim left his friend’s house at about 6-15pm.

As he stepped out of the gate to go to his vehicle, parked in a lay-by just opposite, he noticed a man with a dog on a lead. He didn’t pay much attention, but the animal then bit his forearm, deep enough to expose the bone.

Mr Robinson said: “A large piece of skin was missing. His arm was wrapped in a tea towel to try and stop the bleeding. He was shaking and started to feel unwell.

“Five minutes later, the defendant came back. The defendant appeared to be distressed. He tried to blame the victim for parking his car where he had.”

Mr Robinson said the victim, who is undergoing radiotherapy, was taken to hospital and later had a skin graft.

He added: “If it doesn’t take he will be left with a large scar in a prominent location.”

“He says he is now fearful of dogs and he has never been that before. He says he is even fearful of his friend’s dogs.

“The victim doesn’t make any mention in his statement of any other dogs that might have antagonised the dog.”

Mr John Rusius, (defending Ward), said: “He has had this particular dog for seven or eight years and throughout the whole of that time there have been no problems, no incidents and the dog has been nothing but fine with all and sundry.”

The solicitor said after the incident, the defendant took the dog to his caravan and came back immediately.

Mr Rusius added: “Mr Ward was very upset. He was crying and obviously whilst there did make sure the gentleman was as well as could be expected.

“It seems this is a one in a million situation. Mr Ward just happened to be there at that particular situation. It is not likely to happen again. It was very unfortunate for all concerned and very upsetting for all concerned.

“He fully co-operated with the police. Mr Ward has kept the dog and he is so upset he has put a muzzle on it.

“The dog’s past behaviour has been exemplary. I think if there is any concern about public safety the first thing the police would have done is remove the dog from Mr Ward. It doesn’t constitute a danger to public safety.”

Sentencing, bench chairman Mr John James said: “We conclude it was a most unfortunate accident.

“One in a million is one way of putting it. It was certainly a very unfortunate accident and one that we feel could not reasonably have been foreseen.

“We are very sorry for this victim. It was a nasty injury and we know you were very concerned about it and it has clearly troubled you.”

Mr James told Ward: “We do consider you are a fit and proper owner of a dog. There have been no previous complaints regarding this particular dog and indeed the dog was returned to you by the police. They did not consider it was necessary to take the dog away from you.”