Bull terrier drunk on Stella Artois mauls boy of ten... but court spares 'good-natured' pet

Monday, October 24, 2011

-Uncle of owner's girlfriend gave Stella lager to the animal because it was panting, the court heard

By Stephanie Darrall

Scarred: Joe Pickering (left) was left with a gauge above his eye after a Staffordshire Bull terrier that had been given lager attacked him. Owner James Holmes (right) told the court his dog is seeing a canine psychologist

A boy of ten could be scarred for life after being mauled by a dog which had been fed strong lager.

Joseph Pickering was bitten in the face by the Staffordshire bull terrier moments after a can of Stella Artois was poured down its throat because it was thirsty.

The boy ran in tears to his mother with blood pouring from the wound. He needed a skin graft to repair it.

But the animal’s life was spared when the court heard that it was ‘good-natured’ before its owner’s uncle gave it the lager.

An animal behavioural expert said: ‘I can’t recommend the uncle be put down but I’ll plead strongly on the dog’s behalf.’

Joseph’s mother Carolann Dickson, 43, said: ‘I think it’s disgusting that the dog won’t be put down after everything we’ve been through.

I think it should have been destroyed because of the damage it did to Joe’s face. He’s got to live with that scar.

‘He still gets nightmares and he won’t go in his own bedroom now.

‘He sleeps in ours and he has to have the light on.’ The terrier, named Diesel, is owned by James Holmes, 24, of Colne, Lancashire.

Burnley magistrates were told that the incident happened on a hot day in July after Holmes’s uncle Paul Ashworth had taken Diesel for a walk during which it was attacked by another dog.

A friend of Holmes, Julie Hind, was sunbathing in the garden when she noticed the dog looked thirsty.

Nightmares: The boy said he suffers nightmares after being attacked by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (file pic)

In a statement, she said: ‘He was panting like mad and he was wandering around looking for shade. I said, “Take Diesel for a drink”.

‘Ash had a can of beer in his hand, lifted his head and poured it into his mouth. He said the beer wouldn’t hurt the dog.

‘The next thing, Joseph leaned over the gate and put both his hands on the dog and then I heard a snap and saw Joseph bleeding.

‘I don’t know whether Joseph touched Diesel’s face or not, no-one really knows.
‘Diesel has been brought up around children and what happened was totally out of character.

‘The only explanation I can think of is that Joseph touched him where he had been bitten and that it was a roasting hot day and he’d been fed beer.’

The court heard that no criminal proceedings were launched against Ashworth or Holmes as the dog was on private property. However, a civil action for failing to keep it under control was brought by police under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Holmes hired behavioural expert David Gilman to assess Diesel, and he recommended that the dog be spared.

Magistrate Barbara Harvey said: ‘We have every sympathy for the child and his family and we know it’s affected everyone involved but we’ve read the report and it is very clear what Mr Gilman’s recommendations are.

‘But if this happens again, if Diesel bites anyone, there won’t be a second chance.’
After the hearing, Mr Gilman said: ‘If a dog has carried out an unprovoked attack on a child I would say it should be destroyed, but the circumstances here were absolutely bizarre.

‘Just like humans drinking outside in the sun it would have had effects on the dog’s brain which I believe would lead to this behaviour.’


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