THE owner of a former fighting dog which escaped into a neighbours' garden and killed their family pet has been sentenced after admitting breaching the Dangerous Dogs Act.

A pit-bull terrier-type dog belonging to Ian McIntosh, 40, of Easington Road, Stockton, escaped from its own garden and picked up the Jack Russell in its teeth in front of its horrified owners.

McIntosh was handed an 18-month community order and a three-month curfew order at Teesside Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday, May 13) after a prosecution brought by Stockton Borough Council for being the owner of an illegal pitbull-type dog and allowing it to be dangerously out of control in a place it was not permitted.

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The court heard that the Jack Russell, known as Toby, was picked up by the pitbull-type dog, Jake, and shaken around 'like a rag doll'.

Michele Stowe, prosecuting, said Toby's owner "picked up a large stick and began hitting the dog and continued to shout at it but it just moved to a different area. After a few more minutes Jake let go of Toby and Toby's owner picked him up, at which point Jake started snapping its jaws at his head.

"Mr McIntosh then came and took control of his dog. Toby was taken to Vets 4 Pets but unfortunately died before being seen by a vet."

She said Toby's owner had been terrified for his own safety as well as being fearful for his pet and was extremely upset when interviewed later.

In mitigation, McIntosh's solicitor Chris Marley said McIntosh extended apologies to his neighbour and said he did not have any previous issues with the dog, which had escaped from the garden after some fence panels were blown down in high winds. He thought his dog was a Staffordshire Bull terrier/Boxer cross breed.

McIntosh had a three-month curfew order imposed, meaning he had to stay at home between 8pm and 7am as well as being ordered to pay £500 compensation to Toby's owner, a £60 victim surcharge and £200 costs to Stockton Borough Council.

The dog, which is currently in police kennels, now has to be neutered, microchipped, tattoed, have third party insurance by McIntosh, and be muzzled and on a lead at all times while in a public place if it is to escape being destroyed in two months. He also has to secure his garden so the dog cannot escape.