Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19565
Classification: Beating
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
More cases in EN
Abuse was retaliation against animal's bad behavior
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Prosecutor(s): John Wyatt
Defense(s): Nigel Butt

Monday, Aug 15, 2011

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Gary Wills

A man returned from hospital and killed his own dog with a hammer after it disfigured his daughter, a court heard.

Father-of-two Gary Wills took the family Jack Russell terrier out in the garden, apologized to it, and hit it with a hammer.

Torbay magistrates heard how, on the evening of August 15 last year, his eight-year-old daughter was playing with the dog when it turned and savaged her.

The little girl had been stroking the pet when it attacked her face. She needed eight stitches to her lip and has since been left with a permanent scar and numbness to her lower lip.

The court heard that three hours after the 11pm incident, Wills, 47, returned to his home at Pathfields, in Totnes.

Magistrates were told how he feared to leave the dog alone with his 16-year-old disabled son and decided to take the law in his own hands in the morning.

John Wyatt, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the case came about when Wills' daughter mentioned what happened to a friend in school, whose parents alerted the charity.

When Wills was interviewed by RSPCA officers, he gave a full account of the incident and showed the animal charity inspector where the dog had been buried.

Solicitor Nigel Butt failed to have the case discontinued for not being in the public interest and Wills pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal when he appeared before the court on Friday, March 30.

Mr Wyatt said: "To his credit, he has admitted killing the dog. However, there is a proper course of action for these things which doesn't involve taking the law in his own hands."

Mr Butt said: "The correct thing to do would have been to take the dog to the vet to have it put down, not take the law in his own hands but is it even appropriate to proceed with such a case when his daughter was attacked by the dog and permanently disfigured?"

In interviews with the RSPCA, Wills said he had just reacted to the attack on his daughter and was angry with it.

He told the court he wanted to make sure no attack on his children would ever happen.

Mr Wyatt added: "He has been very cooperative throughout but he has committed an offence under the Animals Welfare Act.

"This was not done in the heat of the moment. The dog died of a fractured skull and suffered considerably.

"There are other ways to deal with incidents like this involving humane euthanasia at the hands of a vet."

Mr Butt, mitigating, said the incident was a 'million miles away from cases of voluntary animal cruelty or torture'.

He added: "This animal would have had to be put down anyway. Mr Wills brought its death about by his own actions which was not the right thing to do.

"But there is extraordinary mitigation. His daughter is left permanently disfigured.

"When the RSPCA came to interview him, he was left distressed by their attitude.

"Mr Wills has kept animals for most of his life including cats, fish, chickens.

"He will never have another dog again. This is a very tragic case."

Magistrates ordered a full report to be prepared before Wills can be sentenced at Torbay Magistrates' Court. He was released on unconditional bail until then.


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