Staffordshire bull terrier locked its jaws on girl's pony tail at school sports day (From St Helens Star)
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Staffordshire bull terrier locked its jaws on girl's pony tail at school sports day
A DOG which ran on to a school playing field and grabbed an eight-year-old’s pony tail as teachers desperately tried to drag it off, will not be destroyed.
The incident happened during a sports day for seven and eight year olds in June after the Staffordshire bull terrier escaped from a nearby garden.
At a hearing at St Helens Magistrates’ Court at which the dog’s 34-year-old owner Lynsey Heesom was to be sentenced, prosecutor Paula Grogan described what happened: “Children were sat on benches and on mats. The sports day hadn’t started when staff noticed a light brown dog running on the field and it appeared to be excited.
“The head teacher tried to call the dog over and attempted to catch it. Some of the children started to panic, standing up and screaming. They were told to sit and remain quiet.
“A number of staff tried to catch the dog, but it ran around dodging people. A little girl was knocked forward and the dog grabbed her ponytail.
“Members of staff immediately intervened, grabbing hold of the girl and stopping the dog dragging her.
“It had a mouthful of her hair and wouldn’t let go. The deputy head put her hands inside the dog’s mouth to force it to let go, but it was locked on.
“Other teachers intervened but by this time the child was crying and the children were screaming. One staff member of staff punched the dog and it released her.”
Police were called and the girl was examined. There were three small bald patches on her head where the hair had been pulled out. She also had scrapes to her ear and neck.
Lynsey Heesom, 34, from Rainford, was subsequently traced and interviewed. The dog, Charlie, was seized by police and has been held in kennels since.
She confirmed that the dog was the family pet and lived in the house with an eight-year-old and six-month-old baby.
She told police that the dog had never bitten anyone and didn’t have any issues with other dogs. This behaviour was out of character, she insisted.
Dog behaviourist Melanie Rushmore had been called in to assess the temperament of the animal and compile a report.
Boasting more than two decades of experience dealing with dangerous dogs, she told the court: “The dog had been minding its own business before it was called over by the head teacher. It didn’t show any pre-cursor to aggression such as its tail in the air or growling.
“It’s not used to being out on his own so it was far more excitable. I don’t know if the girl had a bobble or scrunchie in her hair but it may have interpreted it as a toy.
“I don’t believe this dog is aggressive. It happened because it was in a place that was unfamiliar to it.”
The chair of the magistrates’ bench Mrs C Houghton said: “We are acutely aware of the impact such an incident would have on an eight-year-old child now and in the future.
“Although the incident was serious, it didn’t involve anyone being bitten. We accept the conclusion of the report that it was an isolated incident. We are satisfied that adequate action has been taken to prevent the dog escaping from the garden.
“We are satisfied the public can be protected under a control order. The dog must wear a collar at all times. In a public place it must be kept on a fixed leash and wear a muzzle.”
Heesom was fined a total of £1,416, which included £800 in kennel fees.
A legal order prevents the Star naming the child and the school.