A POLICE marksman shot dead a Mastiff after it attacked a pensioner and sparked a full-scale alert.
Ann Ridsdale, 70, needed stitches below her eye after she was bitten while helping Rob Rainbow, her son-in-law, to look for his 17-month-old dog called Freya. She was taken to hospital and treated for puncture wounds and bruising to her face above and below one of her eyes.
The animal, which had been on the loose for several days, attacked when it was cornered in a cemetery, near Chester Road, Stanley, at about 7pm last Thursday.
An area of Stanley, County Durham, was sealed off as a police helicopter used thermal imaging equipment to find the dog. Marksmen were called in to deal with the animal when it was cornered in an allotment.
Following the attack police sealed off the cemetery. On Friday, they extended the cordon to include nearby allotments. Armed police patrolled the area in a van and then on foot before the dog was found. The dog's owner criticised the armed response. Rob Rainbow, who bought the Mastiff two weeks ago, said the animal was merely hungry and scared.
‘It is disgusting and I cannot believe that the law allows them to do this,’ he said. ‘That dog could have been rescued - there was no need whatsoever to shoot it.’
Two rifle shots were heard at about 1.30pm on Friday afternoon, despite Mr Rainbow's desperate pleas to save his pet. Durham police defended the decision to shoot the dog.
Acting Inspector Philip Atess said: ‘The attack on the woman was particularly vicious and that is why the police have responded the way we have. The decision was taken by our strategic team that once the dog was located it would be killed. The owner and his family have reacted quite adversely because they don't agree with the actions of the police. It is emotional, they are upset and people do and say things they regret at times like this.’
Mr Rainbow, 41, paid £350 for the pedigree dog from a family in Whitby three weeks ago, but she ran off when he opened the car door at his home in Woodbine Terrace, New Kyo, Stanley.
Allotment holder Neville Robinson, 77, of Kipling Close, Stanley, saw Freya from his greenhouse on the Friday morning. He said she did not appear aggressive, but was very thin. ‘She looked startled when she saw me, gave a low woof' and ran off,’ said Mr Robinson.
The decision to kill the dog was condemned by the community, who shouted abuse at the police after hearing the shots.