Court orders dogs to be put down

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Two Patterdale Terriers which terrorised part of Colne were ordered to be put down after a court ruled they were a risk to public safety.

The destruction orders were made by Pennine magistrates in Burnley, which heard of a catalogue of attacks by the dogs, culminating in one of them sinking its teeth into a grandad as he walked his own pets.

Frightened local resident Keith Waddington had been set upon by “Scooby”, when the bitch and the other dog “Harry” had escaped from a house in Colne, after “head-butting” a door open. The terriers had first pounced on the victim’s dogs, with Harry seizing one by the throat.

The hearing was told the two terriers were, at the time of the latest incident, being looked after by animal charity worker Ben Fawcett (28), brother of the animals’ owner, John Fawcett (36).

Mr Waddington had to have medical treatment after the attack in Burnley Road. He told police that five years ago one of the terriers had attacked his dog in front of his young grandchild.

Ben Fawcett, of Fulham Street, Nelson, admitted being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in public, involving brown and tan Harry, and being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control and causing injury, regarding Scooby, a black Patterdale.

The defendant, who had no similar convictions, was fined £235, with £50 compensation, a £23 victim surcharge and £50 costs. The bench, who thanked him for his honesty at the hearing, did not disqualify him from owning or keeping dogs. The prosecution offered no evidence against John Fawcett, of Burnley Road, Colne, who had denied two similar allegations.

Prosecutor Mr Eddie Harrison said Mr Waddington was walking his two dogs, Buddy and Ruby, on Burnley Road and heard the two Patterdales and saw them running towards him. He knew them because of previous incidents. Harry went straight out into the street and immediately attacked Ruby and Scooby set on Buddy.

Mr Waddington managed to get Harry off and handed him to Ben Fawcett and told him to take the dog in. This left Scooby attacking Buddy and Mr Waddington was scared of being injured if he intervened. Ben Fawcett reappeared, went to get some water and Scooby then bit Mr Waddington on the right shin. The prosecutor continued: “He kicked Scooby twice, this broke up the fight and Mr Waddington was able to pull his dog away. Ben appeared and threw water over Scooby. Ben said that he was sorry.”

Mr Harrison said Mr Waddington’s leg was cut and needed dressing.

The prosecutor said the victim told police of previous incidents involving the terriers.

He continued: “There has been a history of these dogs attacking other dogs and being able to escape from the rear yard, despite Mr John Fawcett raising the height of his fence. It’s got to the point where Mr Waddington doesn’t normally walk past the back of the house because of the dogs escaping. Other people have reported incidents and the local authority has written to Mr John Fawcett about the problem in the past and informed him his dogs had to be kept under control.”

Mr Harrison said Ben Fawcett told police there had been a knock on the front door and he left it open to go into the living room. He said the terriers head-butted the living room door open and Scooby went out but he managed to catch Harry. At that point, the neighbour was walking past with his animals.

Ben Fawcett, who was not represented by a solicitor, told the hearing: “At the time of the incident, the only dog with any previous was Harry. He’s the volatile one. The dogs escaping the house, my main priority was Harry. That left Scooby to run out. Scooby’s target was Mr Waddington’s dog.”

The defendant claimed Mr Waddington “lied” about how the bite happened and said: “The fact he kicked Scooby was the reason why he got bitten. Scooby is a nice dog. She’s never said boo to a goose. Harry, on the other hand, is the bad one. Harry got attacked as a puppy. That is why he has never been right since.”

Fawcett, who said the two terriers has been “companions” for a long time, continued: “I love animals. I work on behalf of a major animal organisation. Harry is great with people. He’s just really bad with other dogs. We have tried to raise the gates and put him on muzzles. This one particular incident does not reflect my handling of dogs and animals.”