Dog owners speak about responsible ownership after alleged incidents just outside St Albans

Jasmine's injuries after the incident. Picture: Emma McNamee

Jasmine's injuries after the incident. Picture: Emma McNamee - Credit: Archant

Police are investigating reports of an aggressive dog allegedly attacking other dogs and their owners just outside St Albans.

Jasmine's injuries after the incident. Picture: Emma McNamee

Jasmine's injuries after the incident. Picture: Emma McNamee - Credit: Archant

Emma McNamee was running with her miniature schnauzer Jasmine off Watford road on April 10 when she encountered a couple with two large dogs.

The hounds started circling, but Emma was unconcerned because she presumed they were safe as they were off the lead and unmuzzled.

However, the German shepherd-type abruptly attacked Jasmine. Emma said: “The next thing I know, the Alsatian [German shepherd] went for my dog. It all happened very quickly, I was shouting and screaming like a banshee and the next thing I have my dog in my arms.”

Jasmine had to have emergency surgery, an internal drain and stitches after the attack.

Jasmine's injuries after the incident. Picture: Emma McNamee

Jasmine's injuries after the incident. Picture: Emma McNamee - Credit: Archant

Emma said: “I am just shocked and annoyed with myself that when they started circling I didn’t pick her up immediately to move her from harm’s way.

“But dogs have circled before and I want her to get used to it. They had the dog off the lead and I didn’t expect to go for her - if it is off the lead they have to be safe.”

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She wants responsible dog ownership to be taken seriously in the community.

“Jasmine will be okay, the mental trauma will affect her more than the physical in the long term. She was already scared of bigger dogs,” Emma said.

Speaking to residents after the incident, Emma discovered the dog is notorious for these kinds of attacks.

Amanda Moss said it jumped at her while she was passing by: “I was just walking, not aggressively. As it happened the owners called it back and nothing happened, but it was very aggressive.

“I have walked past dogs and they have jumped up in a playful way before, and if that happens the owners normally say, ‘Oh I’m sorry, are you okay?’, but they didn’t.

“Maybe they didn’t think the dog would have gone for me but I feel like it absolutely would have. This dog will attack someone one day.”

She was concerned about what might have happened if her three-year-old son had joined her on the walk.

Adding: “If your dog is remotely aggressive, then muzzle it because there are kids around here.”

Another dog owner, Karen Watson, said the German Shepherd almost knocked her 16-year-old son off his bike on his way to school.

She said: “If you are a responsible dog owner and your dog will bite others then it should be in a muzzle in public.”

Until about eight years ago there was a St Albans district council (SADC) animal warden to advise dog owners,

Head of community services at SADC, Joe Tavernier, said enforcing dangerous dogs is not in the council’s remit: “These days we employ a contractor, SDK Environmental, whose role, when it comes to dogs, is to collect strays and return them to their owners or re-home them in the event they cannot be traced.”

Emma explained why she wanted to promote the issue: “It is not about naming and shaming the owners, it is about ensuring things like this do not happen again. These owners were walking their dogs off the lead, unmuzzled, despite having had other issues in the past spanning several months which other dog walkers have since reported to me.

“They were about 150m away from their dogs when their Alsatian attacked my dog.

“How are people allowed to own pets when they can’t walk them responsibly, aware of their own dogs’ behaviour to others?”

The German shepherd’s owner responded to the allegations: “It happened, an unfortunate accident. Our dog got confused about the situation.

“She always has been a barking and too excited dog, but she has not bitten any other dog before. We are really, really sorry and hope the dog is recovering.

“We are not able to undo what happened but our dog has got a muzzle to be sure it will not happen again.”

Emma has reported the incident with Jasmine to the RSPCA and Herts police.

A spokesperson from the police said: “Officers have visited the reporting person and taken a statement from them. As part of their investigation, officers have established that the dog in question may been involved in similar incidents previously. Therefore further enquiries are being made to establish the circumstances around any previous alleged attacks.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting ISR 393 of April 12.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said anyone concerned about their dog’s behaviour should seek help from a professional.