One of the enduring definitions in the newspaper business for what makes news, and what doesn’t, goes as follows: Dog bites man, yaaawn. Man bites dog? Hold the front page.
So congratulations to Cheshire financial planner Anthony Gabbott who bit the ear of an out-of-control dog which attacked his own sweet puppy.
Anthony’s brave defence of the four-month-old German Shepherd called Dougie started a chain of events which has just finished up in court, attracting much publicity among us pet-mad British.
The saga started when Anthony, a certified financial planner who works for Watterson Wealth Management of Knutsford, was out walking Dougie last summer. The poor pooch was suddenly attacked by two out-of-control Staffordshire Bull Terriers, prompting Dougie’s owner to defend him by biting one of the dogs himself, a court has a heard.
Anthony, who is a local parish council chairman suffered broken bones in his right hand after he repeatedly punched one of the attackers in a bid to defend his pup.
According to media reports, Chester Crown Court was told the owner of the terriers, Sarah Southern, had ignored an earlier court ruling ordering her to muzzle them and watched as they attacked Dougie during an afternoon stroll. The puppy was dragged away from its master and badly bitten on the side of its head. Dougie also suffered fractured ribs.
Anthony, who is chairman of Plumley with Toft and Bexton Parish Council, punched one of the terriers and bit its ear in a bid to drive it away.
He was described as "very upset and shaken up" after the incident last June on a country lane in the village of Plumley, near Knutsford, and he went to hospital while vets carried out almost £2,000 worth of surgery to save Dougie.
Ms Southern, 42, who runs her own mobile beauty salon left the scene without giving her name but was traced after Mr Gabbott's daughter posted an appeal on Facebook. She had ignored a court ruling two months earlier to keep her dogs on a lead and muzzled in public following a previous incident in which a man was bitten.
Prosecutors believe she had deliberately taken them for a walk 10 miles from her home in Winsford, Cheshire in the hope the animals would not be recognised.
Ms Southern admitted in court to owning a dog dangerously out of control causing injury and was sentenced to 12 months jail suspended for two years. She was also ordered to pay a vet bills of £1,828 plus £750 compensation to Mr Gabbott and was banned from keeping dogs for life.
Judge Mr Recorder Simon Parrington told Ms Southern: “You took your dogs out for a walk in public in contravention of an order and they savaged another dog and a member of the public received injury. You knew the terms of the previous order but failed to abide by them.”
Meanwhile, Anthony’s professional bio lists his favourite private clients, such as the retired, business/owner managers and those with investments held over a modest £30,000 or with household income over £30,000. Indeed, Cheshire, the spiritual home of onyx coffee stables and soccer palaces, must be fertile grounds for private advice.
Perhaps understandably, though, he doesn’t list beauticians or Staffie owners as those among his favoured clients.