Staffordshire bull terrier who mauled a five-year-old girl’s face to destroy it


A Staffordshire bull terrier who mauled a five-year-old girl’s face after training to be a fighting dog is to be destroyed as a judge described the owner as “despicable” and said the attack should have been prevented.

The girl, Elsie, was playing with her older sister when she was attacked by the dog named Spike. She was dragged across the floor by her hair before they buried their teeth in her face.

A court found the dog had been abused for years, trained to attack children and turned into a “biting, fighting dog” by its owner and her young son.

Neighbors at the property in south London heard screams as Elsie was attacked in September last year and found her with life-changing wounds. She faces lifelong medical treatment and plastic surgery for her scars.

At Harrow Crown Court, Clerk Charles Sherrard KC said it was “an incident waiting to happen” and criticized authorities for not acting sooner when there were indications that one dangerous dog regularly roamed free. Police were called to reports that the owner’s 11-year-old son was left alone with Spike and encouraged the dog to “bite on command,” and social services had opened an investigation into the owner for neglect.

Elsie’s mother said: “Any movie where a dog shows its teeth scares her very much, even when she sees… Beauty and the Beast.” She said her daughters used to “adore” dogs, but now under suffer from panic attacks and sleep disorders.

Finance manager Olwen Knowler, 57, faced trial over the attack because she had let Spike and another dog out of her home to relieve herself that day.

Knowler told police she offered to let the dogs out two or three times a day, but did not follow up with their care. The judge found Knowler should have been aware of the danger Spike posed off-leash because the dog had previously attacked her own cat. But he accepted that she was unaware of the animal’s years of abuse.

The judge sentenced her to 18 months in prison with 150 hours of community service.

Recorder Sherrard ordered Spike’s destruction and took aim at the owner, who had “cowardly” failed to appear in court to support Knowler, made any statements about her pet’s future or offered compensation to the injured girl.

“Your behavior throughout this period was despicable,” he said. “I have no doubt that the owner was never able to take care of this dog. He was trained or raised by the owner and her son to turn the dog into a vicious, fighting dog.”

Spike is to be destroyed within 28 days unless appealed. Knowler pleaded guilty to taking responsibility for a dog that caused injury while dangerously out of control. Staffordshire bull terrier who mauled a five-year-old girl’s face to destroy it

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