‘Lock me up, but spare my pet’ – dog owner pleaded with judge after Jarrow bite attack

WOUNDED: Paul Minnikin was attacked by an Alsatian dogs behind St Paul's Church, Jarrow.
WOUNDED: Paul Minnikin was attacked by an Alsatian dogs behind St Paul's Church, Jarrow.

A DOG owner whose Alsatian attacked and injured a man, pleaded with a judge to send him to jail – rather than see his beloved pet destroyed.

Kevin Dunn’s dog, two-year-old Chance, bit 57-year-old Paul Minnikin, on the arm while off its leash in Don Road, Jarrow.

Mr Minnikin suffered a wound to his right arm and needed hospital treatment.

• Grandad suffers ‘flashbacks’ after Alsatian attack

Dunn, of Taunton Avenue, Jarrow, admitted being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control and caused injury when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

District Judge Helen Cousins warned the 46-year-old that the law called for her to order the destruction of the dog unless there was a suitable argument not to.

Dunn told her: “It was my fault not the dog’s. I would rather you send me to jail than the dog be destroyed. He was just a puppy, and I should have had him on a lead.

Judge Cousins agreed not to order the destruction of the animal – as long as it is now always muzzled when in a public place.

After the case, Dunn, whose other Alsatian, Shadow, was also with him on the day of the incident, thanked the court judge for sparing Chance’s life.

He said: “I didn’t want the dog to be punished for something that wasn’t his fault. I now have him muzzled at all times.

“I am sorry to the man for what happened. At the time, I didn’t know he had been injured.

“The dogs are like my bairns. It would’ve killed me if I had been banned from owning animals. I was very worried when the judge mentioned the possibility of him being put down. That was my biggest fear.

“The judge was very fair and reasonable. I would like to thank her.”

Neil Fodor, prosecuting, told the court: “Mr Minnikin was walking near St Paul’s Church on June 9, of last year, and saw a car boot open with a dog cage in the back.

“He then saw a couple walking two dogs off their lead. One approached him, barking. He lifted his arm to protect his face and it jumped up and grabbed hold of his arm.

“The defendant approached and asked if he was all right.”

Mr Fodor said Dunn later admitted to police he was the owner of two Alsatian dogs, one of which had attacked the injured party.

He said he told the man to “stand still” as the dogs were running past him.

Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said: “Mr Dunn is a responsible dog owner, and has members of his family and extended family, who are young children, and the dogs are in the company of those children. The dog had no propensity to act in this way.

“Mr Dunn acted in an entirely proper way. He was concerned to ensure that the man was OK, and said he will make sure the dogs are on a lead and muzzled in future.”

Judge Cousins told Dunn: “You say the fault lies with you, not the dog.

“That convinces me that you a proper person to be in charge of animals.

“There will be no disqualification. This dog is trusted around children, and there have been no previous complaints about its behaviour.

“I have to have regard for public safety with this dog at liberty but feel satisfied this dog does not constitute a danger to public safety.”

District Judge Cousins ordered that the dog be kept on a lead at all times in public, and a destruction order would be immediately triggered if the dog is found not to be wearing a muzzle.

Dunn was fined £150 and ordered to pay compensation of £300 to Mr Minnikin.