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Strood dog owner Denise Smith 'felt pressurised' to have her pet put down after it attacked Rachel Potter

By Clare Freeman

A dog owner claims she felt pressurised to having her pet put down after it attacked a neighbour as she sunbathed in her garden.

Chase, a two-and-a-half-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier cross, got under the fence into Rachel Potter’s garden in Hawthorn Road, Strood, leaving her with bite marks on her arm and needing hospital treatment.

Mrs Potter, 39, said: “I heard a panting noise and the dog was in my face and I lifted my arm up to protect my face and it bit my arm.

The injuries to Rachel Potter's arm

“I had three massive puncture wounds and bruising.”

Mrs Potter, who works at Morrisons supermarket in Strood, was treated at Medway Maritime Hospital.

She said: “This could have been my children, grandson or friends. It [the dog] has got over into my garden numerous occasions.”

Rachel Potter

Chase’s owner, Denise Smith, says media coverage had forced the police to take action, which led her to having the animal destroyed.

She said: “I’m not denying what he’s done, and I’m really sorry, but he only went through the fence because he saw a football, and then got scared.”

Ms Smith, 60, rescued Chase when she was living in Croydon and while she admitted he got “excited and bouncy” he had never attacked anyone.

Chase was put to sleep on Friday afternoon but Ms Smith claimed police urged her to take Chase to the vets following a TV report on the incident.

Destroyed: Chase

She claimed that prior to that the police were offering her advice and she was going to have him neutered but when the story went out “everything changed”.

She said a police inspector called her at 7.45am the next morning to ask if she’d made a decision about Chase.

"I had him murdered. He was my family" - dog owner Denise Smith

She said an officer told her that they couldn’t force her to have him put down, but if she didn’t they would seize him and he’d be in police kennels until a decision was made.

“I didn’t want him to go through that only to be put down anyway,” she said.

“I had him murdered. He was my family.

“My dog died because of the media. That signed his death warrant.”

Ms Smith said she is going to seek legal advice and will be making a complaint to Ann Barnes, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

A spokesman from Kent Police said: “The owner of the dog, a 60-year-old woman, has been reported for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The owner has had the animal euthanised.”

Police have powers under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to seize a dog immediately if the dog is dangerously out of control in police presence.

If this is not the case, the dog can be seized at a later date if it is proven to have been dangerously out of control during an incident under investigation.

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