Sheriff rules dog must be destroyed after it savages girl in garden

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A dog judged a danger was sentenced to death after his owner was found guilty for allowing the American Akita burst into a garden where it savaged a 13-year-old girl as she played on her trampoline.

Brian Ralph’s dog, Chaos, left the girl scarred for life, biting her 16 times after chewing through her trampoline before she fled for her home in Methil, Fife.

But he denied a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act in relation to the incident, claiming he had a “reasonable belief” that his 80-year-old grandmother was a “fit and proper” person to care for the dog, which was described as “muscular and powerful”.

Margaret Deas had left the dog shut out in the garden as she sat watching TV, oblivious to the horrific attack just yards away.

Yesterday Ralph was convicted of being the owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control.

A sheriff banned him from having the custody of a dog for a year, ordered the destruction of the dog and told Ralph to pay £1,000 compensation to the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Speaking outside court her mother branded Ralph and his family “liars”, but welcomed the order that the dog be destroyed.

She said: “The destruction of the dog is a godsend. His dad said he would welcome the dog back into the family. We were worried it would be back.

“A simple ‘Sorry’ and the dog being destroyed would have done at the start.

“But to put my daughter through all that… They stood up there and told a pack of lies. My daughter is still seeing a psychologist and she will be scarred for life.

“She’s lost confidence and she doesn’t want to go out on her own. The dog could have killed her if the neighbour hadn’t intervened.”

The victim, now aged 14, told a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court that she thought she was going to die when Chaos attacked.

Giving evidence, she said the animal had been barking in the garden before chewing down a fence and squeezing through.

Describing the attack that followed, she said: “He put his paw right down my back, right down the middle. I landed on my back and Chaos was ­trying to bite me on my face. I put my hands up to protect myself and he started biting my arms. I was screaming and shouting for help.”

“I thought I was going to die – I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”

Ralph, 24, from Methil in Fife, was found guilty after a three-day trial in front of Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC.