A dog which mauled to death a much smaller breed family pet has been spared a destruction order, providing its owner complies with several safety provisions.

Chip the six-year-old rescue Rottweiler was unattended and not wearing a collar when the attack took place on a diminutive Chihuahua being walked by its owners, in the South Moor area of Stanley, at 8.45am on October 24 last year.

Durham Crown Court heard that the snarling Rottweiler took the Chihuahua in its mouth and shook it from side to side, despite the efforts of the couple to free their pet.

Although he feared being attacked, himself, the male of the couple managed to wrestle the chihuahua free from Chip, after shouting loudly at it, but it was in vein as the couple’s beloved pet, Toby, did not survive the attack.

The Rottweiler’s owner, Derek Wilkinson, later told police Chip was not socialised and reacted badly to other dogs

He said he stayed out the previous night and when he came back that morning discovered the dog was missing.

Wilkinson said he kept it in a disused caravan in a yard opposite his house but believed it must have been let out by someone who had left the gate open

Caroline McGurk, for the Crown, said he accused the couple who lost their dog of not telling the full truth in their police statement, and he believed the Chihuahua must have bitten his dog first and that Chip acted in self-defence.

But Miss McGurk said the account given by the couple was corroborated by an independent witness who said he had to take an alternative route that morning in fear of being attacked by the Rottweiler.

An assessment made of Chip while kept in kennels since the incident after being seized by police gave it an eight out of ten “bite risk rating”, triggered by the presence of food and other dogs.

The report said it can appear vocal and aggressive to other people but calms the more it gets to know a person.

Miss McGurk said at £10 per day, its kennel cost had amounted to £2,510 since it was housed at taxpayers’ expense.

On appearing before magistrates, in May, Wilkinson, 47, of William Street, South Moor, admitted being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control.

The magistrates fined him £80, ordered him to pay the couple £108 compensation for the cremation fee for their Chihuahua and also made a destruction order for the Rottweiler.

Read more: Schoolgirl bitten by dangerous dog outside Sainsbury's in Newcastle

Appealing against that aspect of the sentence, Katie Spence, for Wilkinson pledged he has made improvements to make the compound more secure and should he be allowed to have Chip returned, would keep it at home, and exercise it on a friend’s private field, away from other dogs.

Recorder Carl Gumsley, sitting with a magistrate, said they were “not impressed” by Wilkinson’s response to the death of the other dog and his past handling and training of what was a rescue dog.

But, upholding the appeal, they ordered that providing Wilkinson does not allow Chip to be in public without a muzzle and a secure and suitable lead, and is not in the care and control of anyone aged under 25, the destruction order could be lifted.

Wilkinson must also only exercise the dog on secure, privately-owned land, with the knowledge and permission of the landowner.

As the appeal was, to that extent, successful, Recorder Gumsley said they would not order him to pay the kennel costs for the dog.

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