A dog owner has been given a community sentence after his Rottweiler bit the face of a four-year-old girl in Grantham.
The girl was taken to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham where she later underwent more than four hours of surgery.
On Monday, Grantham magistrates ordered the destruction of the dog.
Vincent Eamon McCaffery, 51, of Lime Tree Close, Fulbeck, formerly of Uplands Drive, Grantham, admitted being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control and injured the girl on June 25 last year.
Prosecutor Daniel Pietryka told the court that the horrific attack happened outside the Premier shop in New Beacon Road at about 9pm. He said McCaffery had gone to the shop with his son to buy alcohol and had tied the dog to railings outside the store.
The young victim and her mother were also in the shop and the girl asked her mother if she could stroke the dog. The mother asked McCaffery if the dog was “nasty”. He said the dog was good with children. He got the dog to sit and then the child stroked the dog for a while. She was then pulled away from the dog and told it was time to go home.
But then the dog “gripped” the child around her face and McCaffery did nothing to stop it.
Mr Pietryka said the victim needed four and a half hours of surgery and she stayed in hospital for two days.
He added: “The victim began bed wetting and is hysterical when she is in the vicinity (of the attack).”
McCaffery initially denied the offence but when photographs of the child’s injury were later seen by the defence, he changed his plea to guilty.
Defending, Chris Pye-Smith told the court that McCaffery had been celebrating after receiving news that a tumour he had was benign. He was very worried, especially as his father, mother and sister had all died of cancer.
He had gone out for a meal with his wife and son and son’s partner and had had a few drinks. They then went to the shop to buy vodka and coke to take back to the house where more members of the family would be gathering.
They went to the shop with the dog, called Destiny, and a conversation started with the victim’s mother.
Mr Pye-Smith said he believed the mother also had a Rottweiler. He said McCaffery had said there was no reason why the girl should not stroke the dog.
Mr Pye-Smith said: “He had had the dog for five years. She was a rescue dog and he has looked after these before. He has not once had a previous incident of a dog biting anybody. We do not know why the dog turned. It happened suddenly and unexpectedly.
“If there had been any risk at all Mr McCaffery would not have allowed the child to stroke the dog. He cannot explain it.”
Mr Pye-Smith said it was not until the day of the trial about three weeks ago that the photos of the girl’s injuries came to light. He said the defence was not aware of the extent of the injuries until then and McCaffery changed his plea. He said that if the defence had seen the photos from the outset, there would have been an early guilty plea and the case would not have dragged on for a year.
Mr Pye-Smith told the court McCaffery suffered mental health difficulties and he had not reacted very quickly when the attack happened because he was in shock.
The magistrates handed McCaffery a 12 month community order with supervision by the probation service and six months’ mental health treatment.
They ordered him to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
No compensation was ordered because a civil claim is being brought against McCaffery.