Court jails puppy farm owner whose dogs mauled two-year-old girl

Court jails puppy farm owner whose dogs mauled two-year-old girl

A puppy farm owner in England whose dogs left a two-year-old girl with life-changing injuries has been jailed for 18 months.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Andrew McGowan, 35, had up to 18 of the American Bully dogs, a cross between American bulldogs and mastiff type animals, in his three-bedroom terraced house on Cockburn Street in Toxteth, Liverpool.

He had left four of the dogs, which weigh 11st to 12st when fully grown, in the garden of the property on May 7 when the animals escaped and attacked the toddler, who can not be named for legal reasons, and her great-aunt Sandra McKevitt in a neighbouring garden.

The youngster, who was airlifted to Alder Hey Children's Hospital, had to spend seven hours in surgery after her right cheek became detached from her face by two-thirds.

Judge Clement Goldstone, the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool, said McGowan had put money ahead of safety.

Sentencing him on Tuesday, he said: "It is quite clear to me that you had put money and the prospects of profiteering from breeding these animals ahead of safety.

"I accept these particular dogs had never before been violent or displayed these tendencies, but keeping and breeding of these dogs, particularly in large numbers, carries with it a heavy responsibility, which you patently failed to discharge."

Andrew McGowan.
Andrew McGowan.

The court heard the girl was with Miss McKevitt and two other relatives, aged four and five, when the four dogs got out of McGowan's garden through a broken fence panel that had been reinforced with chicken wire.

Miss McKevitt had been making her way back into the house with the toddler when one of the dogs bit the child.

Judge Goldstone said: "The others literally smelled blood and joined in with appalling consequences.

"The bulk of the attack occurred while (the girl) was in her great aunt's arms and the physical and psychological experience for both of them cannot be underestimated."

Mike Stephenson, prosecuting, said Miss McKevitt had tried to fight the dogs off and been bitten on her right arm.

Neighbour Thomas Richardson had eventually managed to distract the dogs by standing on a fence and shouting at them, allowing Miss McKevitt to grab the child and run through the house to the street outside, where passers-by stopped to help.

The court heard the child would be left permanently scarred by the incident, which had left her with lacerations to her right cheek, chin, neck and above her right eye as well as puncture wounds to the side of her head which went down to the bone and injuries to her arms, legs and ribs.

Judge Goldstone said the injuries would "unquestionably alter her life".

In a statement read to the court, her mother Laurie Robinson said the girl had been left "traumatised, hurt and, most of all, confused".

Miss Robinson said she had rushed to the scene and found her daughter in an ambulance covered in blood.

She said: "I could not make out any of her facial features."

The court heard the four dogs had been destroyed after the attack and another dog and 13 puppies found at McGowan's house had been rehomed.

Des Lennon, defending, said McGowan, who was not at home when the attack happened, was "truly sorry and remorseful" and had presented himself to police officers after he returned to his property.

McGowan was disqualified from owning dogs for 12 years.

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