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War but little peace for Tolstoy’s mastiff

PET OWNERS in an Oxfordshire village are united in their anger attacks on their pets by a Mastiff belonging to Count Nikolai Tolstoy.

Pensioner Averil Hobbs, 72, told how the Count’s Mastiff bitch Juno savaged one of her Tibetan Spaniels to death two weeks ago. Count Tolstoy’s daughter Alexandra, 29 was looking after Juno and her companion Border Terrier Billy whilst her parents were away on holiday, when both dogs escaped from the garden of the family home in the village of Southmoor, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

The dogs pounced on Miss Hobbs’ Tibetan Spaniel Mischa in a nearby field. "It was dreadful", recalls Miss Hobbs. "Mischa screamed and I saw this massive dog had pinned her to the floor. I managed to get hold of the Mastiff’s choke collar to pull it off and bruised my fingers, but it was too late.

Billy the terrier allegedly attacked Miss Hobbs' other Tibetan Spaniel Laura, but she escaped with bite marks, although she is on veterinary medication. Miss Tolstoy apologised for Mischa’s death.

"It’s obviously awful for the poor old lady," she said. "Juno was on heat and my parents didn’t ant to put her in kennels while they went away, sot hey asked me to stay here and look after the dogs over the weekend.

"I took Juno and Billy into the garden and they were playing. There is one part of the fencing that isn’t barbed, but the fence is still about 3ft high. I went inside for five minutes, but when I came out the dogs had gone."


Miss Hobbs said she does not want any recompense, but called for the dogs to be muzzled.

Neighbour Sally Atkins who sold Mischa to Miss Hobbs said the Tolstoy dogs are allowed to roam free around the village. Last month Juno ran into a neighbouring garden and killed a pet rabbit, after which Count Tolstoy offered compensation.

"The villagers are sick and tired of it," said Ms Atkins. "They are terrified the next victim will be a child."

However, Miss Tolstoy dismissed Miss Atkins' claims that the dogs are allowed off their leads in the village as "rubbish."