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Dogs 'shook toddler by leg like a doll'
A fighting dog clamped its jaws around a toddler’s leg in an Oxford park and “shook him like a doll”.
The 21-month-old boy needed an operation under general anaesthetic and will be scarred for life after the incident off Brasenose Driftway, Cowley.
Dog owner Victoria Betnay admitted four charges at Oxford Magistrates’ Court and was told she could be jailed.
Clare Barclay, prosecuting, said the boy was holding hands with his mother as they walked through the park at about noon on March 24.
Two dogs, described by Mrs Barclay as “pitbull-type” breeds, then ran at the pair.
The woman picked up her son in her arms but both dogs jumped up at the toddler, Mrs Barclay said.
She said one of the dogs then bit into the boy’s right leg.
One witness said: “The dog had held of the child’s leg and was shaking him like a doll.”
The boy suffered “three deep punctures to his lower calf” and a puncture wound to his thigh. He was taken to hospital and operated on but “will have permanent scarring”, Mrs Barclay said.
Betnay, 42, admitted two charges of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in public to cause injury and two charges of possessing a fighting dog.
Warwick Clarke, defending, said the dogs, Fifi and Taz, had escaped from Betnay’s home in Benouville Close, Cowley, when she put the bins out.
One of Betnay’s four sons was later sent to look for the pets and he managed to halt the attack. Mr Clarke said of his client: “She suffers from lupus and auto-immune disease and she’s being investigated now for cancer and the results are outstanding.
“She had these dogs for about two years since they were puppies.
“They were bought on the basis they were Staffordshire terrier crosses, which is not a dangerous dog per se, and in the course of these two years the police have been to the house many times because one of the boys has had a troubled life recently. The police have never said to her the dogs are an illegal breed.
“The dogs are walked regularly by her sons and there’s never been any problem, nor any aggression even to other animals.
“This is an offence of strict liability – you are guilty whether or not it’s you’re fault. It’s just bad luck.”
He added: “She’s been upset when her son has come back and she has acted appropriately and was remorseful and aware when the police came.”
Both dogs have now been destroyed.
On Wednesday magistrate Lynn Dowler bailed Betnay to be sentenced on August 10 and said: “We are not ruling out custody.
“This is a young child who was hospitalised.”