A Nottinghamshire dog owner has been banned from owning animals for life after her dog attacked a pregnant visitor to her home.
Tracie Taylor was sentenced at Nottingham Magistrates Court on Tuesday 4th November under new dog laws.
She received 16 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, as well as a 12-month supervision order and a lifetime ban from keeping animals. She was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to the victim.
In what is thought to be the first conviction of its kind for Nottinghamshire, the 49-year-old had pleaded guilty to allowing her dog to be dangerously out of control. The offence comes under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which was amended in May this year to include offences on private property.
Taylor’s nine-year-old American Akita, Koda, mauled her 29-week pregnant friend in the bedroom of her home on the evening of Wednesday 14 May 2014.
In the unprovoked attack, the 50kg animal leapt up at Laura Holmes biting her in the face and on the arms and leg as she sat on the bed.
The dog was restrained, giving her chance to escape to the bathroom but the dog broke free and followed her, forcing open the door and once again biting at her arm.
Laura’s ordeal only ended when the dog was pulled off her.
Koda has since been put to sleep.
Now 21, Laura has been left badly scarred, with part of her lip torn completely off in the attack. She’s had extensive surgery to her face, resulting in countless stitches, as well as further stitching and gluing to dozens of puncture wounds to her arms and left leg. Next year she faces further surgery to rebuild her lip and cheek.
She said: “When that dog jumped on me I had no time to react. It was so quick. He just didn’t want to let me go. But while he did this to me, it wasn’t his fault.
“I couldn’t look myself in the mirror for weeks afterwards, when I eventually forced myself I just wanted to crawl into bed not get up again.
“It’s hard going outside because people stare at me and jump to conclusions. I’m really conscious about not scaring children.
“It’s remarkable what the doctors have been able to do for me. I was told that I could have lost my own life and that of my son’s that night. Thankfully we survived, but the attack meant I wasn’t able to give birth naturally because there was too much of a risk of rupturing my wounds.
“At 15 weeks old now Nathaniel keeps me going. He’s the one who gets me out of the house. I just want to be the best mum I can be to him.
“But I still haven’t been able to bring myself to have a photograph taken with Nathaniel. These are the sort of things that no amount of punishment by the court can take back.”
Laura has not been able to bring herself to speak to Taylor since the incident.
The court case comes after Chad launched it’s Dob on a Dog campaign - which aims to combat dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners.
Speaking about the attact, which happened in Hope Close, the Meadows, Dogs Legislation Officer PC Steve Feary said: “I believe this is the first conviction of its kind for Nottinghamshire since the change to the dog laws earlier this year. It is one of the first for the country.
“But no one wins here. Laura was badly injured that evening and she will carry the physical scars with her for the rest of her life, not to mention the psychological effects she continues to battle — and all this while trying to raise a new baby.
“Taylor has lost a long-time friend, her beloved pet and the privilege to keep dogs ever again. And let’s not forget Koda, who has lost his life as a result of the incident.
“I hope this serves as reminder that being a pet owner, and particularly a dog owner, brings with it accountability. If you own an animal you are criminally responsible for its actions, even in your own home.
“If someone dies as a result of your dog attacking them you could face up to 14 years imprisonment, if they are injured it’s up to five years. If your dog kills or injures an assistance dog you could be jailed for up to three years.
“When buying a dog, consider the environmental and behavioural needs of the breed and your ability to meet those needs. Choosing a dog based on appearance alone is not recommended.
“While certain breeds may have a reputation for growing into friendly family dogs, if they aren’t trained and socialised early on they could end up being afraid of strangers, unfamiliar dogs and even their own shadow resulting in antisocial and potentially dangerous traits and behaviours.
“Don’t learn the hard way. If you have concerns about your dog’s behaviour consult your veterinarian.”
Have you suffered a dog attack? Contact Chad on 01623 450303