A teaching assistant’s much-loved dog bit one of her pupils in an “unexpected and isolated” incident, a court heard.
Wendy McDonald, 40, was walking her springer spaniel Jasper on Union Street, Whittle-le-Woods, on March 5 when she bumped into Annie Ramsay, eight, and her friends, Chorley Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday.
Andrea Fawcett, prosecuting, said the dog was on a lead and one of the girls asked to stroke him.
Miss Fawcett said: “Unfortunately Annie bends down. She appears to start trying to cuddle the dog. It first of all licks her cheek and then unfortunately does bite.”
Miss Fawcett said the dog was not off the lead or running wild, and that McDonald had expressed remorse.
She said magistrates would have to consider whether the dog, which was seized by police, should be destroyed.
Sarah Gruffydd, defending, said the family had done a lot of research before getting Jasper when he was 12 weeks old. He had been trained at home and was undergoing professional dog training.
She said McDonald, of Church Hill, Whittle-le-Woods, shortened the lead when the girls approached.
Ms Gruffydd said: “It appears it was a reaction to being cuddled that made Jasper respond in the way that he did.”
She said McDonald walked Annie home to her parents and was “incredibly regretful”.
She had references for McDonald and Jasper.
Ms Gruffydd said: “He is normally a very well-behaved, well-liked dog in the area, one that people trust.
“He is very much missed at home at the moment.”
She continued: “This incident is entirely out of character, unexpected and isolated.”
Manor Road Primary School pupil Annie suffered facial injuries and her mum Beckie Ramsay told the court she will need more surgery.
McDonald pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control and injured Annie.
Magistrates said it was “an extraordinarily sad case” and that Annie’s injuries were “going to be life-changing”.
They made a contingent destruction order, which said Jasper must be muzzled and on a lead when not at home or in a cage or tethered in a car. He must also be neutered.
McDonald was given a two-year conditional discharge and must pay £2,500 compensation for Annie’s injuries.
She will also have to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.
Afterwards, McDonald said: “I feel awful for what has happened. This has been an unfortunate incident,from a well-trained loving dog,that could not have been foreseen.
“Hopefully myself and the other family can move forward and put this behind us.
Mrs Ramsay said she was “disappointed” with the outcome and felt the dog should have been destroyed.
She added: “I fear the emotional scars may never fully heal. Annie will have more surgery over the coming months, something that as a family we will get through together.
“I would like to thank everyone who has sent well wishes to Annie and wished for her to make a speedy recovery it is very much appreciated.”