A DOG owner has been told his pet will not be put down after it bit a woman and attacked another dog while being dangerously out of control.

Anthony Lacy was visibly relieved in court after magistrates agreed his seven-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier Jake would not be destroyed after injuring a woman by latching on to her hand.

Lacy, 52, had returned to his home on Branksome Green, in Darlington, at around 9.30pm on November 6 and let his dog out of the house without attaching a lead.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that Lacy had been on his mobile phone when he heard shouting from Hexham Way and found his dog Jake fighting with a dog being walked on its lead.

A Crown Prosecution Service statement read: “The defendant and the owner of the other dog tried to separate the two animals when the injured party also attempted to break them up.

“The woman fell to the ground where the defendant’s dog has latched on to her right hand and caused lacerations and a number of puncture wounds which did require hospital treatment.”

The court heard unemployed Lacy had punched and kicked his own dog to retrieve him. The dog being walked by a man and a woman along Hexham Way required veterinarian care following the attack.

Lacy’s solicitor confirmed that the 52-year-old had had his dog assessed over a four-week period by John Ditchburn, a man who has worked with dogs for 15 years.

Mr Ditchburn told magistrates from the witness box that he had not seen any aggression in Jake in different environments and suggested the dog had been frightened by fireworks being set off on November 6.

A probation officer added Lacy had owned Jake for seven years after a doctor suggested a hobby may help to distract the 52-year-old from alcohol.

She said: “He does regret the incident and does take responsibility for his animal. The dog had run off to a green space nearby as he often did. Previously he had had no issues with the dog.

“Mr Lacy drank heavily for around six years and stopped for six years after his GP told him he needed to change his path or it may become even more serious for him.”

Lacy pleaded guilty to being the owner in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury.

He was ordered to pay £506.12 compensation to cover veterinarian bills for the injured dog and a £250 compensation to the woman bitten during the incident.

Magistrates also imposed a contingent destruction order which requires Lacy’s dog to be muzzled and on a lead in public otherwise a destruction order can be given.