A PIT bull terrier which attacked another dog leaving it with a broken back has received the death penalty.
Owner Daine Gooden sobbed as a judge ordered the destruction of his two-and-a-half-year-old pet Rocco for the attack.
The pit bull is a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and they are only allowed to be kept under strict conditions on the index of exempt dogs.
But 21-year-old Gooden, who has previous convictions for assaulting a police officer and drugs offences, had left his dog alone outside the shops and allowed him to be without a muzzle, both in contravention of the rules.
At a hearing last month magistrates ruled that Rocco be put down and that has now been upheld at an appeal before a judge sitting with two justices at Swindon Crown Court.
Chris Smyth, prosecuting, said the terrifying incident took place at Shaw Village Centre at about 11am on Wednesday, November 17.
He said Sheridan Fisher had gone to the shops and tied her thirteen-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier outside.
As she returned she saw a young man arriving with a sandy coloured dog which had a big muscular build which she thought was a pit bull terrier.
Mr Smyth said it was wearing a muzzle when they arrived but Mrs Fisher said she clearly saw him take it off, which was supported by other witnesses.
She told police she looked worried and thought the youth realised that as he told her the animal was not aggressive.
Gooden then wandered off towards the shops, she said, and moments afterwards, as she was untying her dog, the pit bull attacked.
It bit at the tail of her black Staffordshire bull terrier and then sank its teeth into its rear quarters, and became locked on.
Mrs Fisher tried to push the animal off but it would not let go and Gooden returned but despite him hitting and kicking Rocco it continued biting the other dog.
A veterinary nurse from the nearby practice rushed to try to help and the dogs were only separated when a vet came out.
Gooden then left the scene before the police could arrive without putting the muzzle back on his dog, Mr Smyth said.
During the incident Mrs Fisher and the nurse were both bitten by the Staffordshire bull terrier which was squealing in pain as it was being bitten.
As a result of the attack the dog had to have its tail amputated after suffering a fractured spine. Mrs Fisher’s wound became infected and she had to spend five days in hospital.
Gooden, of Gold View, Rushey Platt, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Mr Smyth said because of the conviction the court had to order the dog be destroyed unless it could be proved it ‘would not constitute a danger to public safety’.
Lee Mott, defending, said his client did not accept that he had taken the muzzle off or left the dog roam free.
He said it had been tied up, which itself was an offence, but the lead broke and that it had managed to initially bite the other dog with the muzzle on.
Gooden insisted that he then tried to get his animal off the dog and the muzzle slipped off and Rocco sank his teeth into the Staffordshire bull terrier.
Mr Mott said the dog had never been a threat to humans but was wary among other animals after being attacked as a puppy and the other dog had growled at it.
He said it was a family dog at home and shared the house with an 11-year-old girl without any problems.
Upholding the destruction order, Judge Euan Ambrose said: “We observe on Mr Gooden’s version Rocco was capable of beginning this incident and causing these injuries to this other dog despite wearing a muzzle.
“It is said on this occasion a growl prompted his behaviour: it seems to us that that is a very minor trigger.
“This is not a case where he was attacked or was severely provoked.”