Ipswich: Bite dog must be muzzled

A DOG OWNER has been ordered to keep her pet on a muzzle while out in public or risk having him destroyed.

Paull Lark was walking her two-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd Gus on a footpath between Riverside Road and Hadleigh Road on July 5 when he bit a member of the public in the stomach.

The 63-year-old admitted her pet was dangerously out of control in a public place and caused injury when she appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday – the day new legislation came into force to punish owners of dangerous dogs.

The new guidelines aim to hand out stiffer penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs which attack people in public, with sentences including up to 18 months in prison for the most severe cases.

District Judge Celia Dawson ordered Lark to pay �200 compensation – on top of an amount already paid to reimburse the victim for her damaged clothes – as well as fining her �50.

She said: “The most important part of this order as far as Gus is concerned is a contingent destruction order.

“He must wear a muzzle at all times when he is out in public. If he does not do so the order of the court is that he will be destroyed.”

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The court heard Lark normally muzzled Gus while he was out in public, despite vets claiming he was of good temperament.

The victim suffered “severe bruising” and two puncture wounds and had to have an antibiotic injection at the doctors, the court was told.

Dino Barricella, mitigating, said: “I don’t think anyone is more sorry than my client.

“She is an experienced dog owner who has never had any problems whatsoever, apart from a split second on that day.”

Despite the victim claiming Gus bit her three times, Mr Barricella added: “My client is adamant it was one bite and one bite only.”

He made it clear to the court Gus had never bitten anyone in the past.

Sentencing Lark, Ms Dawson added: “This has had a serious psychological impact on the victim, suffering from a fear of dogs.

“This attack came out of the blue and was not the result of any provoking. I have a duty to protect the public.”

Lark was also ordered to pay �15 as a victim surcharge.