Judge bans dog from town centres

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A MAN whose dangerous dog bit a toddler’s face has been banned from taking it through Wigan town centre after a court ruling saved its life.

The four-year-old victim was left streaming with blood when the Japanese Akita breed sunk its teeth near to his left eye.

Owner Gary Goldstraw walked free from Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court this week and magistrates rejected the prosecutor’s plea for the dog to be destroyed.

Mike Ardern, prosecuting, said the victim’s mother had told police officers it was “awful” to see her son with blood pumping out of the two puncture wounds although he had not suffered any long-term damage.

The court heard Goldstraw, 40, was begging on Bradshawgate, Leigh, during the afternoon of May 6 when the toddler and his mother approached him and the dog, which was on a lead.

While patting the animal, the youngster was bitten “within a split second” after which Goldstraw pulled the dog back and was said to have “hit it on the head” as punishment.

When interviewed by police, Goldstraw, of Glebe Street, Leigh, was questioned about an incident a week earlier when the dog had reared up and put its paws on the shoulders of a 10-year-old girl and caused scratches.

Although the incident was not being treated as an offence, Mr Ardern argued it provided further doubt to the defendant’s claim that the dog was not uncontrollable.

Goldstraw had owned the dog for two weeks and it was described as being “like a husky but a lot larger” and was about 18 months old, the court was told.

Andrew Stock, defending, said his client’s situation had now changed and he was in a better financial position to look after the dog and that a destruction order would not be a “proportional punishment.”

He had looked after dogs all his life and ensured his pets were well-looked after, a claim backed up by veterinary examinations after the incident, Mr Stock added.

He said: “In the blink of an eye it turns and bites his face. I do not trivialise this, it was potentially very serious but this is not a dog that is walking around, the child has approached the dog, not the dog chasing the child.”

He added that the previous incident should not be given too much weight given that dogs often rear up at people.

He said: “If you walk through Haigh Hall or Mesnes Park every day there will be dogs jumping up at you.”

Goldstraw, who pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dangerously out of control dog in a public place, received a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £75 and a £60 victim surcharge.

The magistrates also instructed for the dog to be neutered and to be muzzled when taken out into public places. An order banning it from being taken down Standishgate in Wigan town centre or Bradshawgate in Leigh was also imposed.