THE VICTIM of a savage attack by a Japanese Akita has called for greater awareness
of the need to train and control powerful breeds after he saw the dogs
owner found guilty of allowing his dog to be dangerously out of control.
Chris Duffy pointed out that he was a dog lover and had no desire to see any
dog destroyed under the draconian Dangerous Dogs Act legislation, but had
no choice but to press charges against the Akitas owner after the unprovoked
attack left him needing 17 stitches.
On August 7th last year, around 8.30pm, when Mr Duffy, 37 was out walking
his dogs with his wife Gaynor 33, two children, Simon aged 8 and Scott, aged
12 and their nephew aged 15, on Castle Hawk Golf Club. The two dogs, Ben,
a black Labrador/German shepherd cross aged 2 and Angus, a 12 week old West
Highland White Terrier were running free, but under control and in no way
The group heard the sound of a rifle and realised that someone must be shooting
Mr Duffy details what happened next, Whilst walking our two children,
who were ahead of us, shouted to us to warn us of a man coming towards us.
We therefore put both our dogs on leads. From out of the undergrowth from
a railway cutting, we saw a Japanese Akita, which was stalking our two children.
We called out to them to stand still. Angus, the Westie, then began to bark,
the Akita turned its attention to my wife who was holding Angus in her arms.
I then shouted to the Akitas owner to get hold of his dog. It then turned
its attention to Ben who was sat at my side. For no apparent reason the Akita
attacked Ben clamping its jaws around his head. I tried to pull the dog off
by the scruff. It subsequently sank its teeth into my left forearm. At this
point I punched the dog about its head. It let go only to spin around behind
me and attack again, in what I can only assume to be an attempt at my throat.
I turned to put my right shoulder up in defence to which it then sank its
teeth into my right upper arm causing a massive injury.
Whilst the attack was over in a matter of minutes, the owner of the Akita
made no attempt whatsoever to restrain his dog. It was only when his dog released
Mr Duffy and attempted to savage Ben, who at this point was running with his
lead round his legs away from Mr Duffy and towards the Akitas owner
that the Akitas owner got hold of his dog.
Despite being in terrible pain, Mr Duffy accosted the Akitas owner and
demanded his name and address, but gave Mr Duffy false details.
Following the attack, Mr Duffy went to hospital where he received a total
of 17 stitches to various wounds.
I reported the incident to the combined Police of Rochdale, Heywood
& Middleton on the morning of the 8th August, due to not getting home
until the early hours from the hospital, said Mr Duffy. That same
morning at approximately 11am, PC Bennett attended at my home and took details
of the incident. I gave him the details that the Akitas owner had told
me, at this point we discovered them to be false. I informed the Police that
this man wore a uniform associated with Wincanton Logistics a
warehouse company based in Middleton. PC Bennetts first line of enquiry
was to investigate at Wincanton to see if he could discover a name for this
man, which he failed to do so.
Mr Duffy was naturally concerned at this, feeling that there was an irresponsible
owner with a dangerous dog at large. After all, it could have attacked
my children instead of me and the dogs, adds Mr Duffy. It could
attack someone else, and its owner would make no attempt to stop it.
On the evening of the same day, 8th August, Mr Duffys eldest son Scott
was on the same stretch of golf course and came home to tell his parents that
he had seen the same man shooting rabbits, but without his dog. Mr Duffy immediately
telephoned the Police and passed on this information in an attempt to ascertain
who this man was. He was informed by the central control room operator that
there was no patrol in the area at that time and therefore they were unable
Naturally, Mr Duffy felt totally dismayed at this response and set about trying
to trace the dogs owner himself. A few days later, in frustration he
contacted the Greater Manchester Police via their web site and sent an e-mail
outlining his frustrations.
We then contacted the local newspaper group in an attempt to try to
discover the name/address of the Akitas owner, purely in an attempt
to help the Police identify this man, continues Mr Duffy. Following
this article a lady called to our home relaying a similar story about her
grandson being bitten by a dog of the same description in the local park.
Unfortunately she did not know the name of the dogs owner, as in this
incident it was being exercised by a woman, she did however inform us that
he was a local man who owned the dog and gave us his approximate area of where
he lived. This lady also informed us that she had been fighting for nearly
18 months to try to ascertain a conviction but to no avail, as the Police
informed her that they were unable to assist in her case, even though they
knew the identity of the owner and his whereabouts.
A few days later I received a telephone call from a Superintendent Paul
McIver who is in charge of the telecommunications at Clayton Brook, Manchester.
He agreed that my call was not dealt with efficiently and was extremely apologetic.
Following my complaint PC Bennett then called to my house with his Sergeant
to apologise for the delay in responding (this was approximately 10 days after
the initial reporting of the incident). He then went on to inform us that
he had drawn a blank and was unable to trace the owner of the dog which attacked
me. My wife and I then informed the Police that due to our own persistence
and enquiries, we had been able to locate the owner, his address and the actual
name of the dog, together with details of a previous attack.
The Police then informed Mr and Mrs Duffy that they would check out the information
and would visit the man to discover his version of events and if true that
they would ask that he hand the dog over to them. They added that if he refused
to do so, then a Court Order could be applied for and they could then seize
The dogs owner was identified as Scott Gray, 30, a nightclub bouncer
who, it transpired, was known to the police. However, what happened
next caused Mr Duffy to express total incredulity at the emphasis of the law
and how it is interpreted.
Our information was correct but we heard nothing from the Police. Two
days later I contacted Sergeant Sherlock of the Middleton Police Station,
who informed me that officers had indeed visited a Mr Gray at the address
we had given and that he had admitted that his dog had bitten a man on the
Golf Course. However, he had claimed that I had attacked his dog and that
it had bitten me in self defence. He had reported the matter to the Police
on the very same evening on the 7th August. When asked at what the situation
would be regarding the dog, Sergeant Sherlock informed me that the Police
were extremely reluctant to seize the dog as in his view public funding was
better spent elsewhere as the cost of kennelling the dog would be £5
per day until any Trial outcome. The dog - which let us remember was dangerous
- was left in situ approximately a quarter of a mile from our home from August
until the present time.
My wife made the comment that she was a witness to the attack and why
had the Police not taken a statement from her, or my nephew aged 15. I contacted
PC Bennett to ask this question and he informed me that the CPS would be in
touch should they need further evidence.
Approximately two weeks later P C Bennett contacted Mrs Duffy and called to
take a statement from her. This was now nearly three months after the event.
When asked if she remembered the incident, Mrs Duffy replied It was
like yesterday. She then gave her version in a very detailed statement
to PC Bennett. He informed her that a statement would not be required from
Scott Gray was duly charged under Section 3 of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act
for allowing his dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.
The case was eventually heard at Rochdale Magistrates Court on January
5th 2001. Mr Gray pleaded not guilty to Section 3(a) of the Dangerous Dogs
Act, as this is defined as being an aggravated offence. Whilst at Court the
Solicitor for the CPS asked PC Bennett how he had traced Mr Gray and why it
had taken 10 days from the incident to establish who he was. PC Bennett informed
the court that he checked the dog bite register and discovered that Mr Grays
dog had indeed bitten a 14 year old boy in a Heywood Park. The long delay
in time was apparently due to shift changes and holidays.
Mr Duffy continues: Whilst in Court and in my evidence, I informed the
bench that the Akita was a specialised breed of dog and the recommendation
of the Japanese Akita Association is that they NEVER be let off a lead in
a public place. Also, they would recommend that Akitas be muzzled when not
in their own surroundings. Mr Gray was unaware of these facts. The Japanese
Akita Association do not recommended the breed as a first time dog, another
point Mr Gary did not know.
Mr Duffy also told the court that he had been off work for a week with his
injuries and that he and his wife had suffered nightmares about the incident.
Mrs Duffy was so upset that she had taken their own dogs to dog training classes
to reintroduce herself to other dogs. Initially, attending the classes and
seeing the other dogs had caused her great distress, although she was getting
Gray told the court that he had bought the Akita as a puppy five years previously
and that it had grown up with his children and was not aggressive. He was
unable to answer on the official complaint he made that Mr Duffy had attacked
his dog, as the evidence did not tally with his statement.
The magistrates duly found Gray guilty and fined him £500 for not being
in control of his dog in a public place, with the added fact that this was
an aggravated offence. He was also ordered to pay £118.00 costs and
£200 compensation to Mr Duffy.
The magistrates also ordered that the dog be destroyed. Gray had 21 days to
appeal against the Courts decision which ended on the 26th January.
Mr Duffy added: I was satisfied with the courts verdict. As Ive
said, I am a dog lover, but I am also a responsible dog owner and would not
dream of allowing my dogs to attack other dogs or people. I take no pleasure
in seeing a dog destroyed, but it is obvious that Mr Gray cannot control his
dog. As of yet I have not been informed of whether or not has been destroyed
or whether an appeal has been mounted, so once again I feel that it will be
up to me to discover the outcome of the matter and once again contact the
police to chase things up.
We hear a lot these days about spiralling crime rates, and how the police
rely on the help and vigilance of the public. I provided as much information
as I could to the police in this case, and they initially failed to act upon
it, even when Mr Gray was known to be out shooting and could have been questioned.
It was only after my own investigations and my pushing for action at the highest
level that anything was done. Whats more, it is obvious that the police
officers involved in the case did not understand the workings of the Dangerous
That said, Im relieved that it was me who was bitten by the dog
and not one of my children, or the situation could have been a lot worse and
I must be grateful for that.