Telecomms engineer and 'sensible' dog owner fined over £1,300 after his runaway Alsatian mauled woman in Yorkshire village

A ‘sensible’ dog owner who was ‘incredulous’ that his beloved family pet had mauled a woman after it escaped from his garden has been fined over £1,000.

Telecomms engineer Kurt Cookson, 31, said his German shepherd Isa had ‘never shown signs of aggression’ before she got out through an insecure gate in the village of Eggborough, near Selby, last September and bit a passing woman on the leg.

Victim Louise Baker, who was walking her own two dogs, had to have surgery for a deep wound that will leave a permanent scar, York Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.

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Cookson pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control and has since spoken to a canine behaviour expert to try and secure the return of seven-year-old Isa.

A German shepherd dog (stock image)A German shepherd dog (stock image)
A German shepherd dog (stock image)

In her victim impact statement, Ms Baker said she felt that one or both of her pets would be killed by Isa, that she had ‘never felt so scared’ and that she had put her own safety second to the love for her dogs. She claimed that Cookson showed ‘no compassion or assistance’ and that she was helped by a man who had been metal detecting nearby. The ‘gaping’ wound exposed the fat and muscle in her leg.

Cookson’s defence counsel said that his client thought the gate may have been left open by poachers passing his cottage on Weeland Road, where he lives with his partner, a nurse, and young children. He had let Isa into the garden to toilet and when he realised she was missing, drove around until he found her running loose. He was not aware she had attacked anyone until police stopped him as he was putting the dog into his car and seized Isa, who has been held in secure kennels since the incident.

He said Isa had never escaped before, and the Crown Prosecution Service accepted there had been no prior complaints about the dog.

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Cookson added that Isa had a close bond with his children and described himself as ‘incredulous’ to hear she had bitten someone. He admitted he should have checked his gate was secure, and has now padlocked it.

His counsel added that Cookson was a ‘sensible’ owner prepared to follow the canine behaviour expert’s recommendations.

The prosecution did not seek to have Isa destroyed, but asked for an order to be imposed that requires her to be muzzled and on a lead in public and kept in a secure garden.

Cookson was fined £1,379, which included £800 to be paid in compensation to Louise Baker. Magistrates agreed to the order relating to Isa, who can now be returned to him under the conditions set.