Counting the cost

A badly injured Cassie at the vet shortly after the attack.
A badly injured Cassie at the vet shortly after the attack.

Waikiki resident Erin Louise Burns (27) pleaded guilty in Rockingham Magistrates Court on Tuesday to one count each of not having a dog on a leash and a dog attack. Burns was also ordered to pay $2500 in legal costs.

The court was told Burns’ american staffordshire terrier savagely attacked the then 11-year-old shihtzu, named Cassie, after running out of a property on Kopai Crescent about 9.30am on October 6.

Cassie survived the attack but had to have several operations and be fed by a tube.

The court heard Burns’ rental property was undergoing maintenance work and a door was ‘not securely locked’.

The terrier had no history of attacks and was put down after Burns surrendered the dog to City of Rockingham rangers.

The maximum penalty for not having a dog on a leash is $5000, while it is $10,000 for a dog attack.

Magistrate Susan Richardson said it was a ‘very serious matter’.

‘The dog is lucky to have survived. I do note that it has been hard for you because your dog had to be put down,’ she said.

In her verdict, Magistrate Richardson took into account Burns’ distress and early guilty plea.

Shortly after the attack, the shihtzu owner said she wanted to thank the people who helped her daughter and their dog after the attack, rushing the dog to the vet.

‘My dogs will never be going for a walk again and if we do take them, we will be armed with a baseball bat,’ she said.