Out of control bull terrier dog menaced young children in play park

An aggressive dog may have to be destroyed after running amok in a play park, jumping and snapping at a five-year-old boy.

A man tried to distract the Staffordshire bull terrier away from the child after it lost control in August last year. But it turned and chased him instead.

In court today Keri Butler, 30, of Nederdale, Lerwick, admitted failing to keep the animal under control when she was looking after it on its owner’s behalf.

She also admitted failing to appear in court on 23rd February.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said a number of children were in the area when the dog was let loose.

“The dog was chasing and barking aggressively at the children, who ran away from it and were considerably frightened. They were crying and scared,” he said.

“A five-year-old boy was crying with the dog jumping and snapping at him.”

A witness contacted the police while her husband went out and chased the dog away, Mr MacKenzie added.

“That wasn’t easy, because as he went out the dog turned its attention to him, and began barking at him and chased him back to his own garden.”

The court heard Butler did not, at the time, accept she had done anything wrong, and thought it was a “trivial matter”.

“I understand she still has the dog,” said Mr MacKenzie.

Sheriff Graeme Napier described Butler’s antics as a “gross neglect of her responsibilities”.

He insisted: “I have to consider whether it’s appropriate to destroy the dog.”

However defence agent Tommy Allan said Butler had been “picked on” by local youths who had left her garden gate open and allowed the dog to escape.

He said Butler had purchased a bolt with a view to locking the gate, but had not yet had it secured.

“She accepts that, given she knew people were opening her garden gate, she should have kept more of an eye on the dog within her garden.”

He said he had seen references for the dog’s “good character”, and added there were no injuries as a result of the incident.

The court heard the SIC’s environmental health department had sent three letters to Butler concerning the dog.

But the sheriff was not best pleased about Butler’s past failure to attend court.

“For somebody whose dog it isn’t, she seems to have an awful lot to do with the dog,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to have been the person who tried to chase the dog away.”

He deferred sentence until next month, calling for background reports to be prepared. He released Butler on bail.

The sheriff added: “I will ask the fiscal if I can get more information on the dog, because I am considering its position.”


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.