Published: 00:01, 22 December 2017
An out-of-control dog attacked a terrified council worker, leaving her in need of surgery.
Medway housing officer Theresa Lamb was visiting a grandmother’s home in Chatham when two-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Rome clamped its jaw on her right arm.
The dog - described by a judge as “highly aggressive and highly strung” - sank its teeth in right down to the bone.
Despite Wendy Hooper trying to beat off the pet with a broom, it went for the victim twice more.
As well suffering wounds to her arm, Mrs Lamb’s hand was bitten. She only managed to escape by jumping over a garden fence.
She suffered permanent disfigurement and is still having treatment.
Hooper, who was looking after Rome while the owner was a work, later told police it was simply “doing its job” protecting the house.
Maidstone Crown Court was told the dog had four months earlier attacked a Jack Russell and its owner.
Hooper was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years after admitting being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control, causing injury.
She was ordered to complete 180 hours unpaid work and banned from owning or caring for a dog for three years.
Judge Julian Smith said the 42-year-old had shown genuine remorse and she was the carer for her registered blind daughter, aged 21.
But he added: “There is a history here of which you would have been aware and it is worrying in the extreme. You chose to have that dog in the house and it is perfectly clear it was an animal that could change at any time.”
The judge ordered Rome’s destruction.
The court heard how the dog had been cruelly treated and was rescued at the age of six months by current owner Jamie Taylor.
He said Rome had been beaten and was made to fight for food with another dog.
"In a shockingly savage and severe attack, it caused permanent disfigurement, serious injury and ongoing problems to Mrs Lamb. It is hard to imagine the shock and horror - Judge Julian Smith
He gave it a second chance but agreed there should not be a third chance.
Judge Smith nevertheless gave him 35 days to appeal the destruction order.
Mrs Lamb went to the house in Henry Street with a colleague on May 16. Believing Rome was in the back garden, Hooper invited them in.
But as Mrs Lamb entered the lounge, the dog flew at her.
Judge Smith declined to make a compensation order after hearing Hooper was on benefits. It will, however, be sought in the civil courts by Mrs Lamb.
Adrian Rohard, defending, said Hooper did all she could to stop the attack. She had since been treated for depression and anxiety.
“She would never have had a dog in the house she believed would be aggressive to others, where she had her blind daughter and her grandson, now aged 16 months,” he added.
Describing the pet as “trained to be aggressive”, Judge Smith said it latched onto the victim’s arm in a “vice-like grip”. The dog was shaking and she was trying to shake it free.
“In a shockingly savage and severe attack, it caused permanent disfigurement, serious injury and ongoing problems to Mrs Lamb,” he continued.
“It is hard to imagine the shock and horror and the anticipation of so much worse as it’s happening.”
To Hooper’s credit, he said, she did not hesitate to wade in and beat the dog off. But it attacked again, biting Mrs Lamb’s left hand.
There was a third attack outside, causing bruising to her leg, before she escaped over the fence.
She needed two operations for seven wounds to her arm and four to her hand.
When asked if she thought Rome was dangerous, Hooper replied: “No, it was only doing its job - protecting the house.
“If it doesn’t know who they are it will jump up. It’s because she was a stranger.”
She added she was devastated and felt sorry for Mrs Lamb.