'Vicious' dog attack leads to tragedy

PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 October 2011

THE victim of a brutal dog attack has described the terrifying moments when three crazed animals subjected her and her pet to a horrifying onslaught and left her with sickening injuries.

Katharine Hancock, of Wick St Lawrence, needed plastic surgery after the trio of ‘vicious’ canines bit her multiple times on her face, head, arms and neck and killed her beloved collie Cassie.

She described in court this week how she feared for her life and fought to stop the dogs during the attack in Wrington woods.

The dogs had escaped from their home at The Grove nearby while their owner, Sarah Avery, was on holiday in New Zealand.

The 65-year-old was this week found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control.

It took less than an hour for the jury to decide its unanimous verdict on Monday at the end of a four-day trial.

The court heard how Ms Hancock was walking Cassie on October 21, 2009, when they were approached by the three large Anatolian shepherd dogs.

Prosecutor Simon Morgan described how Ms Hancock had seen the animals before when she had been walking Cassie with her husband and had described them at that time as ‘crashing against the fence’ and ‘almost crazed’.

On the day of the attack she had been walking up the hill when she became aware of the dogs - and they were next to her in seconds.

One dog clamped down on her arm and tried to pull her around, while the other two attacked Cassie.

When all three turned to attacking her pet, she managed to get in between them and hit one with a lead, but one dog then turned on her.

It knocked her to the ground and attacked her, biting her all over her head and face, while she buried her head into the ground to try to protect her eyes.

When she saw there was nothing she could do to save her pet, she took a brief chance to flee and get help from a nearby house.

Giving evidence in court, Ms Hancock said: “I tried to shake the dog off originally, but it stood on its back legs and I was screaming.

“When it let go and started attacking Cassie I could just see them rolling down the hill with her in the middle and remember a lot of noise.

“I ran after them still screaming, but then after I hit one with the lead a dog started attacking me – I remember it biting me all over my face, neck and head.

“I remember Cassie yelping, they were on top of her tearing at her.

“When the one that was attacking me turned on Cassie too, I realised my life was in danger and I ran.”

Ms Hancock was left with several bites to her arm, deep slashes around the back of her neck and head, a ripped ear and a slash from under her nose down to her lip.

Cassie died as a result of multiple fractures and lacerations.

Mr Morgan told the jury that it was a ‘vicious’ attack and just 18 months earlier one of the dogs had escaped and attacked Gareth Edwards who was walking with his girlfriend in the woods.

The attack had left Mr Edwards needing stitches after the animal bit through his clothing.

Mrs Avery had left the dog in the care of her lodger, who was renting an annexe attached to her house at the time.

Mr Morgan said the charge related to the fact that she has not fulfilled her responsibilityto leave the animals in the care of someone who could adequately supervise them each day.

She is due to be sentenced next month.

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