A DOG owner and his pet are to be reunited after 14 months’ separation following an attack by the Staffy/pit bull cross on two visitors to his girlfriend’s home.

But a judge said both Scott Anthony Byers and the dog, Tank, are left, “walking a tight rope”, following the incident, in an alleyway off Byerly Road, Shildon, on April 11, last year.

Durham Crown Court, sitting in Newcastle, was told Byers rang police at 2.50pm reporting that he was the subject of baseball bat threats by a couple visiting his girlfriend’s house, over an unpaid £250 debt.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said Byers told police he grabbed his dog from the garden and it “took off and chased after” the man with the bat, biting him in the arm and ankle.

Mr Dryden said the victim was treated at hospital for three days for a deep laceration to the left forearm and bites to the ankle, while his partner also suffered hand, wrist and leg injuries.

Byers admitted he trained the dog to fight but said he did not mean the dog to “rip to pieces” the man in the way he did.

The 30-year-old defendant, of Kirkbright Close, Lingdale, near Saltburn, admitted being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control.

Kate Barnes, for Byers, said he rang police fearing being assaulted himself, and while he trained the dog to attack, he made efforts to release its grip on the victim.

Judge James Adkin said the dog was, “likely to react adversely”, given the situation, and, in such circumstances, would not order its immediate destruction.

Passing a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 30 probation-led activity days, the judge warned Byers: “Both you and Tank will be walking a tightrope in future.”

He ordered the dog to be muzzled at all times in public and tethered if in the yard or garden, adding: “If Tank is in any more trouble he will be destroyed.”

Due to his lack of means and the fact he was not to blame for the delay bringing the case to court, the judge did not order Byers to pay any costs towards the dog’s £4,260 kennel fees since the incident.