A TERRIER was thrown around like a doll in a vicious and unprovoked dog attack, a court heard.

Millie, a 16-month-old Border terrier, was being walked in Angel Ridge park, Old Town, when she was mauled by two Akita-type dogs. She died as a result of her injuries.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court yesterday heard owner Trudi Wagner had been left “completely bereft” as a result of the death. Rosemary Heath, for Swindon Borough Council, said: “Millie was her best friend and constant companion. She was the perfect dog for her.”

One of the dogs responsible for the attack has since been put down by owner Franchesca Brewer. But Swindon magistrates stepped short of making an order to destroy the other dog, instead ordering Brewer to keep it muzzled at all times in public and banning it from being in any house other than its owner’s.

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Rosemary Heath, for Swindon Borough Council, which had applied for year-old Akita-cross Skylar to be put down, said Trudi Wagner had been walking Millie together with two friends on January 20.

They spotted the two Japanese mountain dogs running towards them at speed. Neither was wearing a collar and no one was with them. The pair circled the terrier and “ragged Millie like a doll”, said Miss Heath. A witness described hearing the “horrendous sound” of dogs growling, barking and Millie whimpering and crying.

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Trudi Wagner, Millie's owner

A Vauxhall estate pulled up, inside was the owner’s mother and three girls. Miss Heath said: “The girls in the car were screaming, ‘We’re sorry, we’re sorry. They’re not ours. We’re looking after them for a friend.'” One of the girls managed to grab one dog, but the other fled. The driver made no attempt to get out of her car.

Off-duty paramedic Martin Pounder came to Millie’s aid. Despite regularly coming into contact with dogs in his line of work, magistrates were told Millie’s attackers were “big enough to make him think twice”.

After the attack a shocked and blood-drenched Millie was taken to Drove Vets. An operation later revealed her intestine had ruptured, with food and faeces found in the dog’s abdominal cavity. Millie died from her injuries.

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Border terrier Millie

Describing the attack as incredibly frightening and distressing, Miss Heath said: “The attack on Millie was unprovoked, without warning and so vicious that Millie did not survive, demonstrating the dogs were dangerous.”

The borough had received reports of two other occasions in January 2019 and November last year where the dogs had acted aggressively towards other animals. The pair had also been seen unaccompanied in Okus on November 16, 2018, Miss Heath said.

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Owner Franchesca Brewer was interviewed under caution by the council five days after the attack. She described the two dogs as “cuddly and playful”, saying she had been shocked and upset to find out the pair had attacked terrier Millie.

Brewer suggested the dogs had initially escaped by jumping at the front door handle. Her mother had managed to round up the dogs, but the animals escaped again as she attempted to get them from the car to the house. It was on this second occasion that the dogs had attacked Millie on Angel Ridge car park.

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The two Akita-type dogs were spotted running unaccompanied in November last year

Brewer, of Portland Avenue, admitted being the owner of a dangerous and out of control dog. Yesterday, she told JPs: “Obviously, the incident is a horrible thing. No one ever wants that to happen. We can’t apologise enough for what happened. Something needs to be done so it doesn’t happen again.”

She said the older dog, six-year-old Suki had been put down. A dog behaviourist had been hired to help them with younger Skylar, who had been spayed. The family had bought toys and games designed to keep the dog distracted while she was home alone, the dog had a new harness and a bolt and padlock had been fitted to the back gate.

Skylar was a “completely different dog” freed from Suki’s influence, Brewer added. The family had stopped walking her around the Angel Ridge development “out of respect”. She said: “People have said they’re terrified. We would rather not put them in that situation again.”

However, despite purchasing a muzzle for the dog, Brewer and her mother had made no effort to use it. Brewer said: “When we walk her we do have a muzzle with us, just in case anything should happen.”

And Miss Heath, for Swindon Borough Council, said the family had missed appointments with the dog behaviourist hired to help train Skylar. Council officers had “no confidence that Miss Brewer will take the necessary steps to keep Skylar at home and continue to engage with professionals”, the solicitor added.

Explaining the skipped training sessions, Brewer cited her busy work schedule that saw her work most days and claimed the family had made efforts to book home visits.

Magistrates made a control order. Skylar must be muzzled in public, including when she is in the car, kept on a lead no longer than two metres long, be locked in another room if the front door is opened and has been banned from visiting any home other than her own. Brewer must not acquire another dog.

Chairman of the bench David Barrand said: “These are extremely restrictive conditions and reflect the seriousness of the risk we perceive from this animal.”

Brewer was also ordered to pay £1,176 in costs.