THE owner of a dangerously out of control dog is appealing to the court not to have his beloved pet destroyed.

Ian Ladley’s three-year-old German Shepherd, Bonnie, could pay the ultimate price after she bit and injured a woman over her owner's garden fence in Manor Square, Winsford, on June 17.

Ladley explained he was supervising Bonnie, along with another German Shepherd he owns, in his front garden at the time of the attack.

The 50-year-old said Bonnie was jumping up at the fence and barking when the woman walked by in striking distance of his dog.

Bonnie then reached over the fence and bit the woman on the arm.

Ladley appeared before Chester magistrates on Thursday, September 21, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog.

Addressing magistrates, court legal advisor, Gareth Clancey, said in cases where a dog had injured a person, it's normal for magistrates to issue an immediate destruction order.

However, if it could be shown the dog's behaviour at the time of the attack was wildly out of character, magistrates could choose to impose a contingent destruction order instead.

This means the dog would not be killed immediately, provided the owner obeyed strict rules imposed by the court on how it was controlled in public.

Ladley, who had no lawyer of his own to represent him, gave magistrates a reference from a vet at Salthouse Veterinary Centre, which was read to the court.

It said staff at the practice had always found Bonnie ‘friendly and sociable’, adding she could be cautious around new people, sometimes taking refuge behind her owner's legs, but this isn’t unusual in dogs of her age and breed.

It concluded the practice had ‘no immediate concerns’ over Bonnie’s behaviour, but recommended a course with a dog behaviourist to help build her confidence.

However, Mr Clancey explained this evidence was not strong enough for magistrates to give Bonnie a reprieve.

The court would need to see a full report from a certified animal behaviourist before that decision could be made, which Ladley agreed to provide if the case could be adjourned. 

Chairman of magistrates, Ian Knight, said: “We've taken onboard the guidance of our legal advisor, and we will not move to sentence today. 

"We will adjourn the case to give you time to get a full behaviour report.

“We strongly recommend the report includes a case history of your dog’s behaviour.

“If you fail to do this, the next court will not have the evidence they need to help stop your dog being put down.”

After the hearing, Janet Ladley, who joined her husband at court, said: “The dogs are never out in the garden alone, but that day, Ian just wasn’t quick enough.

“Bonnie’s a lovely girl. She’s meek as muck. We’ve even got a reference from the postie. He’s not scared of her.

“And in the mornings when the school kids pass, you hear the mums shouting at them to ‘get a move on’ because they always stop and play with her.” 

The case was adjourned until Wednesday, November 8, at 10am.