Girl, 3, ferociously savaged by guard dog and left needing emergency surgery
A three-year-old toddler was ferociously savaged by a guard dog trained to listen to commands in German. The little girl was in a country park with her grandparents when she was seized by the dog and shaken in its powerful jaws.
A court heard the Dutch herder dog - similar to an Alsatian - was trained in Germany for protection and security work. Its new owner, who doesn’t speak German, was exercising it in a park when it pounced on the little girl.
It sank its teeth into her neck and back leaving her with scars that will stay with her until she is a teenager. The dog called Chief was adopted from a rescue centre just four days earlier with a warning it was “not good” with children.
The young girl needed surgery under general anaesthetic and was in Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales for four days. Her mother said she was left with a fear of animals with claws and still has flashbacks and nightmares.
Owner Daniel Barge, 33, was let off an immediate jail sentence after admitting being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place.
Prosecutor Jeff Jones said: “The dog was trained in Germany and the new owner was told it could easily overstep the mark. He was told to keep it away from children’s playgrounds and sand pits because it wasn’t good with children.
“Barge was walking the dog through the park on a harness when it nudged the little girl off her feet. It gripped her back and neck and began shaking her for about 15 seconds while she was on the ground. Passers-by and the girl’s grandfather all struggled to get the dog off her such was its grip.”
Barge and other people in the park shouted at the dog but the only English commands it understood were “heel” and “sit”. The court heard Barge and his mother Melanie Harries paid the rescue centre in Llanelli £150 for the 10-year-old dog.
Mr Jones added: “There was knowledge that this dog had a past - it had been trained to be aggressive and had been used in protection and as a security dog.”
The terrifying attack happened at the Barry Sidings Countryside Park in Pontypridd in August last year. A victim impact statement from the tot’s mother said she was left with a fear of animals with claws and still has flashbacks and nightmares.
The girl, who can’t be named for legal reasons, needed surgery under general anaesthetic for her injuries at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff where she was a patient for four days.
Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard the horrific incident triggered a mental breakdown in Barge and he spent 10 weeks in a psychiatric hospital.
Peter Donnison, defending, said Barge was “deeply saddened and remorseful” and arranged to have the dog put down immediately after the attack. Barge was given a two month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay the girl £500 compensation for her injuries.
Judge Richard Twomlow told him: “This was a terrifying incident for the little girl and for her grandparents who were with her. You had no reason to think that the dog would behave in this extreme way. But given the victim’s age and her injuries this does pass the custody threshold. There will be a prison sentence but it will be suspended.”
The judge said the £500 compensation was not intended to reflect the severity of the little girl’s injuries.