A professional dog walker whose dogs have bitten people or other animals seven times says it’s the fault of owners treating their pets like “fur babies”.
Terence Peckham, 66, is now banned from walking more than four dogs at a time after pleading guilty to being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog.
The court heard he was with a colleague walking more than a dozen dogs near his home in Walpole Terrace when one, a rescue dog called Oscar, bit another dog walker, Scott Knight.
Today at Brighton Magistrates Court, he pleaded guilty – but tried to shift the blame onto other owners.
He said: “Unfortunately when people have dogs, people tend to treat them as children, as fur babies.
“Dogs are naturally, generally a pack animal, and they delight in getting on.
“If other dogs are not socialised, there could be a problem.”
Prosecuting, Gemma McKale said the incident happened on 30 March last year.
She said: “The defendant refused to apologise as he didn’t believe he had done anything wrong at the time.
“There have been a number of previous occasions involving defendants dogs causing injuries. There are six previous reported incidents where his dogs have bitten other people or animals.
“The dogs were out of control or off a lead and he has been walking multiple dogs at the time.”
She added: “Each time different dogs have been involved, suggesting this incident is not as as result of this dog being dangerous, but of the defendant walking many dogs and not being in control of them.”
Peckham, representing himself, told the bench: “I deeply regret the incident and I’m terribly sorry it’s happened.
“It wasn’t the case that I refused to apologise at the time. Scott was very upset and we have met before because we both have problem dogs so generally avoid each other.
“He walked up very quickly behind me and I wasn’t aware that he was behind me.
“One of the nervous foster dogs sensed him, Oscar pulled the lead out of my hand and bit him.”
Mr Knight was left with injuries to his left knee and the back of his right leg, which required medical treatment.
Peckham said he has been fostering dogs for 15 years for various charities, and has helped rehome more than 30 dogs in that time.
He also used to run a professional dog walking company, and still walks dogs for money to make ends meet.
He said since the incident, Oscar has always been muzzled and on a lead in public.
Ms McKale asked for a contingent dog destruction order, which would mean if Peckham didn’t abide to conditions including not walking more than two dogs at a time, Oscar would be destroyed.
She also asked for a condition that Oscar, a Bulgarian cross, should be muzzled and on a lead in public at all times.
Peckham told the court this would make it impractical for him to walk the 10 dogs he currently has living with him in his flat, seven his own and three foster dogs.
He said he sticks to Brighton and Hove City Council’s recommendation of no more than six dogs per walker, using volunteers to help out with the 18 dogs he regularly walks.
After hearing from probation, the bench gave him a 12-month community order, with a requirement to undertake five rehabilitation activity days and 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also told to pay Mr Knight £650 in compensation – £120 for damage to his trainers, £130 for damage to his tracksuit and £400 for his injuries.
And court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £95 were also imposed.
The contingent dog destruction order was also granted, but the condition of only walking two dogs at a time was changed to four dogs, all of which must be on a lead.