THE owners of a retired guide dog who was savaged by a bulldog are furious the animal has been returned to his owner.
Jo Cottam who was forced to pull the dog off her partially sighted mum’s faithful companion, Greg, had been told the bulldog’s owner could face having the animal destroyed.
But Howard George Thomas Smith, 38, of Surrey Street, Balby, who admitted being the owner of a dog which was dangerous and not kept under proper control, was instead handed a more lenient sentence.
He was ordered by Doncaster magistrates to keep his American bulldog Buster on a lead at all times, muzzled at all times and is only allowed out in public between 10pm and midnight.
Mrs Cottam, of Dixon Crescent, Balby, and her mum 68-year-old Eileen Thompson, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, are disgusted by the sentence.
Mrs Cottam said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful, we couldn’t believe it. It took me two days to build up the courage to tell my mum. We are all devastated.
“My mum said she felt like someone had ripped her heart out when she found out.
“This dog is a menace to society. I managed to pull the dog off Greg but that’s only because the adrenaline kicked in, things could’ve been very different.
“This has had a huge affect on Greg and my mum. Greg served as a guide dog for years and he didn’t deserve this to happen to him and all we wanted was justice for him and that hasn’t happened.
“The owner hasn’t even apologised to us and wasn’t even fined. Instead the Guide Dogs charity that rely on donations to keep going had to pay Greg’s vets bills which were around £1,400.”
The family is now backing a campaign by charity Guide Dogs for the Blind to allow authorities to punish an attack on a guide dog under the same guidelines as an attack on a human.
The attack happened last October when Jo was out walking with two dogs and her mum, , as well as her mum’s partially-sighted partner Kelvin, 49, along Surrey Street when the dog ran out and plunged his teeth into 12-year-old Greg’s side.
Speaking at the time Kirstie Bower, mobility team manager for Guide Dogs in South Yorkshire, said: “Ultimately we want the law changed to enable the authorities to treat an attack on a guide dog and other assistance dogs like an attack on a person, in recognition of the full impact of these attacks.”
Mrs Cottam added: “The laws are so outdated they were introduced about 140 years ago, everything else seems to have moved with the times but this hasn’t changed. We are all gutted.”
RSPCA spokeswoman Leanne Plumtree said: “A comprehensive approach is needed to tackle irresponsible dog ownership that prevents serious incidents from occurring rather than waiting for them to happen before action can be taken.”