Rottweiler sentenced to death for killing chihuahua in front of owners allowed to live

A Rottweiler sentenced to death after it attacked and killed a chihuahua has now been allowed to live.

Chip the six-year-old rescue pet was alone and without a collar when he attacked the small dog being walked by its owners in the South Moor area of Stanley, County Durham on October 24 2021.

The snarling animal took Toby the chihuahua in its mouth and shook it from side to side as the couple desperately tried to free their pet, Durham County Court heard.

Although he feared being attacked himself, Toby’s male owner managed to wrestle the chihuahua free from Chip after shouting loudly at it, but sadly he did not survive.

Chip’s owner Derek Wilkinson, 47, later told police that the Rottweiler was not socialised and reacted badly to other dogs.

He said he stayed out the previous night and when he came back that morning discovered Chip was missing.

Wilkinson said he kept the dog in a disused caravan in a yard opposite his house but believed it must have been let out by someone who had left the gate open.

Prosecutor Caroline McGurk said Wilkinson accused the couple who lost their dog of not telling the full truth in their police statement.

Durham Crown Court heard that he believed the chihuahua must have bitten his dog first and that Chip acted in self-defence.

But Miss McGurk said the account given by the couple was corroborated by an independent witness who said he had to take an alternative route that morning in fear of being attacked by the Rottweiler.

Chip was seized by police after the incident and kept in kennels where he was assessed.

Results gave the canine an eight out of ten “bite risk rating” triggered by the presence of food and other dogs.

The report said it can appear vocal and aggressive to other people but calms the more it gets to know a person.

Miss McGurk said at £10 per day, its kennel cost had amounted to £2,510 since it was housed at taxpayers’ expense.

At a magistrates court hearing in May, Wilkinson, of South Moor, admitted being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control.

The magistrates fined him £80, ordered him to pay the couple £108 compensation for the cremation fee for their chihuahua and also made a destruction order for the Rottweiler.

During an appeal against that aspect of the sentence, Katie Spence, defending, pledged he has made improvements to make the compound more secure.

She argued that he should he be allowed to have Chip returned, would keep it at home, and exercise it on a friend’s private field, away from other dogs.

Recorder Carl Gumsley, sitting with a magistrate, said they were “not impressed” by Wilkinson’s response to the death of the other dog and his past handling and training of what was a rescue dog.

But, upholding the appeal, they ordered that providing Wilkinson does not allow Chip to be in public without a muzzle.

The dog must also have a secure and suitable lead, and be in the care and control of those aged 25 and over.

Following these rules, the destruction order could be lifted.

Wilkinson must also only exercise the dog on secure, privately-owned land, with the knowledge and permission of the landowner.

As the appeal was, to that extent, successful, Recorder Gumsley said they would not order him to pay the kennel costs for the dog.

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