Owner of devil dog that bit a hole through toddler’s cheek in ‘horrific attack’ fined just £250

September 18, 2012 | by | 0 Comments
Lucy and her mother Heidi after recovering from the dog attack

Lucy and her mother Heidi after recovering from the dog attack

The parents of a toddler mauled by a devil dog that ripped a hole in her cheek have slammed magistrates after the beast’s owner was fined just £250.

Little Lucy Harris, two, was helping her mum Heidi, 26, clean the family car when the Labrador collie cross charged at her and clamped his jaws around her face on July 22.

Distraught Heidi rushed to Lucy’s aid and managed to prize the youngster from the beast’s jaws as it pinned the helpless little girl to the ground.

Lucy’s dad Gary Barratt, 43, rushed her to hospital after he checked her bloodied face and shockingly found her tongue sticking out of a hole in her cheek.

Medics needed more than 30 stitches to stop the bleeding and piece the fragile tot’s face back together.

But there was nothing doctors could do to stop the permanent scar now etched on her cheek.

Her family say Lucy has been deeply traumatised by the attack, which has shattered her confidence and made her terrified of strangers and any animals she sees.

They believe Lucy would have died if her mum hadn’t been there to rescue her from the dog’s snapping jaws.

The animal, called Dobbie, had belonged to the family’s neighbour Margaret Wright who had been saying goodbye to a friend when the creature dashed out her front door.

Unbelievably, Wright, who lives a few doors away, claimed her pet was not violent and said the animal only bit the girl because she touched his sore ear.

Careless Wright, 60, admitted to her dog being out of control in a public place and could have faced up to two years behind bars, or a fine running into £1,000s.

But instead she was ordered her to pay £250 in compensation and £45 legal costs following a hearing at Cambridge Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The young girl’s family said they felt “sickened” by the soft sentence they say won’t stop other dangerous dog owners letting their beasts run wild.

Full time mother-of-three Heidi, who lives in Cambridge, said: “The attack was so horrific.

“It had been a lovely day we were outside cleaning the car. I then heard this almighty scream and saw the dog biting my daughters face.

“She had a chunk of flesh torn from her face it was the worst thing I have ever seen

“She has not been the same since the attack, she gets very shy and seems to have no confidence and what’s more she might have permanent scarring on her face.

Scarred:  Lucy Harris just after having stitches as a result of a the dog attack

Scarred: Lucy Harris just after having stitches as a result of a the dog attack

Lucy with the rip in her cheek

Lucy with the rip in her cheek

Blood on the toddler's face

Blood on the toddler’s face


“So when the court ruled we were just to get £250 I was sickened.

“My little girl could have died if I had not intervened. This is a hugely traumatic moment in her life but it seems as though that doesn’t really matter it the eyes of the court.

“She may need further surgery or counselling in the future and who is supposed to pay for that?

“She should be at least given something more substantial for the future.

“This isn’t sending out the right message to the owners of potentially dangerous dogs.”

Immediately after the attack, on July 22, Lucy was rushed to Addenbrooke’s hospital by her parents where she underwent two hours of emergency surgery and was kept in for three days.

Her parents say the poor youngster is now a “shadow of her former self” and suffers psychological trauma following the attack.

Lucy is also terrified of all animals, struggles at nursery school and regularly points to her face saying “Naughty Dobbie.”

Her furious dad Gary, a window cleaner, said: “I have never seen anything like it.

“There was blood everywhere. I was stunned but also furious – I could have killed that dog.

“The attack was absolutely atrocious she is my little girl and she was savagely attacked by this dog.

“And it felt like the courts were just rubbing salt into our wounds when the owner of the creature was just ordered to pay #250.

“Is my daughters well being worth just 250? It is an absolute joke.

“Lucy has just started nursery and all the kids are asking what has happened to her face.

“I hope the scar will fade away but when I look at her my heart drops.

“If £250 is all it takes to get you out of your dog doing that to someone, that’s not going to make people control their dogs.”

During the court hearing on Friday Yetunde Fawehinmi, prosecuting, said: “The girl’s mother saw her daughter had drifted away and the next she heard was screaming.

“She saw the dog attacking the child and biting her face.”

She added: “The child wouldn’t stop screaming so they called for an ambulance and were taken to hospital.”

Jim Dignan, defending, said Wright was a responsible dog owner and this attack came out of the blue.

He said: “My client said the dog would not bite a child unless it had a reason to do so.

“The dog had a sore ear and if the child touched the dog’s ear then the dog may have reacted to that with a bite.”

Under Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, owners of dogs found to be out-of-control can be sent to prison for up to six months and/or fined.

Owners whose out-of-control pets harm someone can be sent to prison for up to two years and/or fined up to 175% of weekly earnings.

The dog was put down after the attack.

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