Baby mauled by pocket bully dog in 'tragic accident'

Generic satellite view of the town of Caerphilly
Generic satellite view of the town of Caerphilly -Credit:Google Earth

A woman has been fined after a dog mauled a baby. The pocket bully fractured the baby's skull and cheekbone last year in Caerphilly, an area which has seen two fatal dog attacks in recent years.

The woman — who cannot be named for legal reasons — pleaded guilty at Newport Magistrates' Court to being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control causing injury. She said the pocket bully — a breed which can either be a cross between an American bully and a Patterdale terrier, or simply a smaller version of an American bully — had not been displaying aggressive behaviour and that there had been safety measures in place to control the dog. She insisted she could not reasonably have foreseen the incident.

The court heard the incident happened after the woman failed to properly shut a baby gate. Prosecutor Dave Thomas said the child was left with permanent scarring after the attack caused fractures to their cheekbone and skull. Within hours of the mauling, surgery was needed to remove pieces of skull. Mr Thomas added: "I think the child is making good progress now." The dog has been put down.

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Ed Mitchard, mitigating, told the court his client had been guilty of a "momentary lapse" and "will have to deal with this for the rest of her life". He said she was a fit and proper person to be in charge of a dog and only had one previous conviction, which was three years ago for a dissimilar offence. "There is nothing to rehabilitate here," the solicitor added. "I can't think of anything the probation service could offer that would benefit [the defendant] or society at large."

District Judge Charlotte Murphy said the sentencing guidelines indicated a community order should be imposed, but she would go outside of the guidelines because she did not see the value of such an order in this case. "It was clearly a tragic accident," the judge told the defendant. "You had a lapse in concentration and it has had tragic consequences which you will have to live with for the rest of your life. The dog had never given cause for concern before, and it had never been aggressive or shown concerning behaviour." The judge imposed a £200 fine, £80 victim services surcharge and £35 in prosecution costs. She did not make a disqualification order because she considered the defendant to be a fit and proper person to be in charge of a dog.

Two fatal dog attacks have rocked Caerphilly in recent years. Jack Lis died aged 10 after being mauled by an American XL bully in November 2021. And Shirley Patrick, 83, died in "violent and unnatural" circumstances after being attacked by an American XL bully Cane Corso cross in December 2022.

After Jack's death his mother Emma Whitfield campaigned for changes in the law on breeding and selling dogs. Since the end of last year it has been against the law in England and Wales to sell, give away, abandon or breed from an XL bully. And since February it has been a criminal offence to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate.