Little girl left with 'dog-phobia' after incident in Sheffield

The owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier that bit a little girl and severely fractured her finger had been told to keep it muzzled after it previously attacked a teenage boy.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 4:59 pm

Timothy Atkinson's dog "Mucker" snapped at the girl's hand and arm in Lowedges on July 29.

CCTV showed the ten-year-old girl putting out her hand before the dog bit her left ring finger, said prosecutor Stephanie Hollis.

She was left with bruising, puncture wounds and a deep cut in the webbing between her fingers. She spent two nights in hospital, as well as suffering psychological harm described as "dog-phobia."

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Sheffield Crown Court.

Atkinson told police his dog had bitten a teenage boy in 2014, and he kept it muzzled afterwards, said Ms Hollis.

But she said he warned the children of a friend not to go near the dog, and, on the day of the incident, told the victim not to approach it.

The court heard the girl's mother was worried about letting her children play outside as a result of the attack, and her daughter was still in pain after receiving treatment from the hand surgeon.

Matthew Burdon, mitigating, said Atkinson, of previous good character, was nearby at the time, intervened after he saw the dog attack, and was distraught by what happened.

He said "Mucker" was a nine-year-old dog rescue dog which "displayed signs of previous abuse", but had been described as "tolerant and calm" by an animal behaviour expert.

He said the 2014 attack was triggered by a thunderstorm, and the dog had "mellowed."

"It may only have a year or two to live," he said. "Mr Atkinson is more worried about what will happen to the dog than to him."

Atkinson, 51, of Atlantic Road, pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control.

Recorder Simon Kealey QC told him he would not destroy "Mucker", despite the "serious injury" and a "lack of control measures."

He imposed a contingent order, providing he keeps the dog on a lead and muzzled when outside, and restrained when children are in his home.

Atkinson received 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, with a three month curfew, from 10pm to 7am.