Dog owner found guilty of allowing her dogs to be dangerously out of control

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A 69-year-old woman has been found guilty of allowing her dogs to be dangerously out of control after her American bulldog disembowelled a cat in front of its owners.

Animal charity the RSPCA said the cat would have suffered “immensely”.

Christine Huggan, from George Hill Road, Broadstairs, appeared at Margate Magistrates’ Court last Friday and was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat under the Animal Welfare Act by failing to exercise proper and effective control over her dogs.

She was also found guilty of breaching the Dogs Act of 1871 by allowing her dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

The magistrate heard how the RSPCA, police and dog warden had received several complaints over a number of months from members of the public about Huggan’s dogs, stating they were regularly seen straying and causing a nuisance to people, horses, and other dogs.

Huggan was issued with two previous warnings by a dog warden, but continued to let her dogs roam free which led to the tragic and vicious death of a cat.

RSPCA inspector Caroline Doe said: “The magistrate heard that minutes before the tabby cat was ripped to pieces, the owners had been outside with her in their garden with their tiny baby – they had only just walked inside their house when the dog burst through hedge and disembowelled the cat in front of them.

“An independent vet examined the body and confirmed the cat didn’t die instantly. She would have suffered immensely during the attack.”

Huggan was given a three-year conditional discharge and made to pay £2,000 costs.

The dog – an American Bulldog called Milly – will be returned to charity the Thanet Animal Group, which re-homed the dog to Ms Huggan.

The court also ruled her other dog – a German shepherd cross –must also be muzzled at all times in public place, on a lead and only walked by an adult.

“We are satisfied with the outcome of this case. The RSPCA has always said we just want the dogs to be kept under control and not to be a threat to anyone else’s animals in the future,” said inspector Doe.

“Despite rumours circulated by various individuals, the RSPCA did not – and have never – made any application to have either of the dogs destroyed.

“That is not the stance of the RSPCA; we have always just wanted to ensure the safety of both animals and humans by ensuring Huggan keeps her dogs under control in public.”

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