A WOMAN has been jailed after three rottweilers in her care got out of her garden and “savagely” attacked two other dogs, killing one and injuring both owners.

The rottweilers, two belonging to defendant Maria Timney, and one she was looking after on behalf of her daughter, were described as roaming the streets of Sherburn Hill and Littletown, “like a pack of wild animals”, between 6 and 7pm on July 13.

Durham Crown Court heard that Timney was warned by neighbourhood wardens weeks earlier after some of her dogs were seen unsupervised and not on leads in the area of her home, in North View, Sherburn Hill.

Neil Jones, prosecuting, said one warden advised her that her rear garden gate was insecure, on June 24, less than three weeks before the incident.

He tried to assist her with temporary repairs, using rope but was “disappointed” to find it still remained insecure on July 21, a week after the attacks.

Mr Jones said early on the evening of July 13, a woman was walking her five-year-old cavapoo, Ben, in Sherburn Hill when she saw three large rottweilers running towards her pet, in East View, in the village.

She picked up Ben to prevent them from attacking him, but the dogs jumped up at her, biting her arms through her fleece.

Mr Jones told the court that they began to “savage” him, as the owner screamed for help, but by then he was already dead in her arms., with his insides hanging out.

The woman called her husband and a passing van driver stopped to assist her and took her home.

Ten minutes later Timney drove up the street looking for her dogs.

When she was told what they had done, she drove off at high speed, narrowly missing the owner's 73-year-old husband who was trying to photograph her number plate.

A neighbour managed to push him out of the way of the vehicle.

The dog owner was taken to hospital for injuries including puncture wounds and scratches to her arms and hand.

Less than an hour later in a similar incident a ten-year-old Havanese poodle, Doodle, was attacked by the three rottweilers near a park in Littletown, despite the efforts of her owner, who was also injured in trying to prevent the attack.

She managed to lift the terrified Doodle over a fence and her husband collected them, before taking the injured dog for vet’s treatment for a number of puncture wounds.

Timney was issued with a Community Protection Notice after the incidents and the three dogs have been in police care since the attack.

She told police the dogs escaped after she came home carrying shopping and she could not close the door quickly enough.

Timney, 56, admitted six counts of being in charge of a dog that caused injury while dangerously out of control.

The court heard impact statements from the distressed dog owners, one of whom had only recently moved into the semi-rural area to give Ben a better quality of life.

Andrew Walker, mitigating, said Timney has shown her dogs at local shows and there has never previously been any examples of the dogs behaving in an aggressive way.

He said the dog involved in the attack which belongs to Timney’s daughter, Rascal, has since died from prostate cancer, leaving the fate of the other two, Lady and Beau, in her ownership, in doubt.

Mr Walker said on the evening of the incident she did not, “sit idly by”, but went out looking for them and helped police round them up.

The court heard this is her first such conviction, although she has other offences on her record and is on licence from a 30-month prison sentence for assisting in a robbery.

Judge Ray Singh said these dogs were roaming these villages, “like a pack of wild animals”, and he declared that he did not consider Timney to be, “a fit and proper person to have a dog.”

Imposing a 14-month prison sentence, he banned her from keeping dogs for ten years and passed destruction orders on both surviving rottweilers which took part in the attack.

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