THE owner of a dog that savagely attacked a young boy in Huntingdon has been spared jail. Instead, Michael Feehily, 38, was told to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty at Peterborough Crown Court to having a dog that was dangerously o

Michael Feehily

THE owner of a dog that savagely attacked a young boy in Huntingdon has been spared jail.

Instead, Michael Feehily, 38, was told to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty at Peterborough Crown Court to having a dog that was dangerously out of control.

The American Bulldog, Buddy, attacked four-year-old George Brown, leaving him needing 200 stitches in his face and reconstructive surgery.

Buddy, who was a rescue dog, was destroyed following the attack.

On Wednesday, Judge David Aaronberg told Feehily he was being punished for only one incident involving Buddy, and not the others in which children, including George, were injured.

Feehily's partner, Toni Badcock, was given nine months in jail last November after admitting four offences of having a dangerous out of control dog. She was in charge of the dog when it attacked George.

Last week, Azza Brown, prosecuting, told the court how, on August 13, Feehily had opened the front door of his property in Norfolk Road to call his daughters.

At that point, Buddy rushed past him and ran to the green opposite, knocking over one of the children who had been playing.

The dog was fetched by Feehily and taken back into the house. The attack was said to have left the child frightened and upset.

In an interview with police, Feehily denied the dog was out of control, saying "it was just playing with the children".

The attack on George, which left him needing stitches, happened the following day.

Andrew Howarth, defending, said Buddy had been rehomed with Feehily by Wood Green Animal Shelters and there was nothing to suggest the dog was dangerous.

Mr Howarth highlighted an assessment carried out on the dog in December 2005 by Wood Green which said the dog was "good with strangers, other dogs and children". It added that Buddy would be better with children over the age of eight as "he is clumsy".

He said if his client had thought the dog was a danger to children, he would not have had it in the house.

However, Judge Aaronberg said Feehily should not have allowed the dog to escape and should have taken steps to ensure the safety of the public.

"The issue is should something have been done earlier to avoid the other incidents? I am sure that it is something you (Feehily) will bitterly live to regret."

Feehily was given a 12-month community order, including 150 hours unpaid work, and was ordered to pay £245 court costs and £100 compensation. He was also banned from owning a dog for 10 years.

* The chief executive of Wood Green Animal Shelters, Dennis Baker, said: "Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, care of the dog is with the keeper, which in this case was Mr Feehily.

"At Wood Green, people adopt a dog and technically the shelter retains ownership, but the dog is the responsibility of the keeper.

"By our assessments this dog was not a danger to children. Therefore, the family environment of its keeper must have changed and that reflected in the change in the dog's attitude.

"Had someone told us about the attacks we would have taken the dog back to the shelter. They should have come to us sooner.

"Instead, they waited and as a result it was too late for George and all the other children.

"For that, everyone at Wood Green is sorry but we are not to blame.