A LERWICK woman who allowed her partner’s Staffordshire bull terrier run free and frighten young children in a local playground narrowly avoided a jail sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Keri Butler, of 66 Nederdale, had been looking after the dog while her partner was in prison, when it escaped out of her garden through an open gate into the playground next door.
At an earlier hearing the 31 year old woman, who is out of work and has drug problems, admitted failing to keep the bull terrier under control in the Nederdale area on 20 August last year. She also pled guilty to failing to appear in court on 23 February.
In March the court heard that the dog had jumped and snapped at a five year old boy, and then chased a man back into his own garden when he tried to distract it.
The case had been adjourned for Butler’s psychological condition to be assessed, but on Wednesday Sheriff Graeme Napier said that he had little choice but to send her to prison.
The sheriff said she did not require mental health treatment, but was not considered suitable for community disposals, such as voluntary work. Nor could she be relied on to pay a fine, he said, adding: “She is sentencing herself to custody.”
However defence agent Tommy Allan pleaded that Butler be allowed the opportunity to pay a fine, saying that she had not deliberately left the gate open nor was there any real danger of the dog hurting anyone.
Sheriff Napier fined Butler £900 for the dog offence and a further £500 for failing to turn up in court.
He also barred her from keeping dogs for five years, though she will be able to apply to the court to have that order relaxed after one year.
The sheriff also refrained from ordering the dog to be destroyed after hearing that Butler’s partner had relinquished ownership.
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