By Michael MacLeod
A DISTRAUGHT family are calling for Staffordshire bull terriers to be banned after their beloved pet dog was killed in a savage attack.
Catherine Falconer, 52, was walking her four-year-old Toby and eight-month-old puppy Milo when a stray dog came towards them.
The beast bit tiny Toby – a miniature dachshund who stood at just 20cm tall – round the neck and threw him into the air, before launching an attack on the family’s Dachshund pup.
The attack was so brutal that Catherine lost her voice as she screamed for help and when she tried to intervene, was bitten herself.
Vets fought to save the two dogs but couldn’t save Toby from what they described as “horrific injuries”, and Milo is still in intensive care.
Police are hunting for the dangerous dog, and have warned anyone who sees it to keep away, but the Falconer family insist that the breed should be banned altogether.
Catherine told how she was out walking the two pets just before midnight on Sunday near her home in Tranent, East Lothian, when the stray ran at them.
She said: “The dog was running hell for leather at us and I just knew from how vicious it looked that it wanted to kill my wee dogs.
“It dug its teeth into Toby and flung him into the air like a rag doll, then chased Milo and bit him too.
“Both my dogs were covered in blood so I kicked the Terrier to fend it off while it was jumping up at me.
“Every time I shut my eyes I see it, and I want them taken off the streets because they are no different to pit bulls.”
Four-year-old Toby died shortly after the attack, while doctors at the Braids veterinary hospital battled for three hours to save Milo in an operation on his ruptured abdomen.
The tiny pup is still in intensive care and has been given a 50-50 chance of survival.
Catherine added: “We sit up at night just waiting on a call from the vets with news about Milo,”
“I lost my voice screaming at the terrier to go away, and I’m so upset I can’t even cry.
“Everyone in Tranent knows how much we loved our pups, and why anyone would want to own a beast like the one which killed Toby, I do not know.”
Mike Hall, a partner at the Braids veterinary hospital in Edinburgh, described the injuries sustained by the two dogs as “horrific”.
He said: “They are small dogs so they do not have a lot of muscle or a thick coat or hide to protect them, and the injuries were even more severe than they might have been otherwise.
“Both dogs had injuries to the abdomen, and unfortunately one of the dogs was too badly injured and couldn’t be saved.
“The other was treated straight away by our E-Vets emergency team, who operated to repair damage to the intestines for around three hours. Milo is now in intensive care and is recovering but we will need to wait and see how he does.
“It is not uncommon for dogs to attack other dogs, unfortunately, but to see an attack like this must have been absolutely tragic for the owner.”
Catherine and husband Mike are now determined to help police trace the stray dog, and are considering asking local politicians to support their call for a ban on Staffordshire bull terriers.
The mother-of-two said: “I know it’s only a dog we’ve lost, but this happened just around the corner from a primary school, and I shudder to think what it would have done to a child,”
“These dogs are like weapons, and police told us they are often used by people for protection.
“But that’s no excuse, these aren’t pets and they should not be stray on the streets like this.
“Somebody in this area knows whose dog that is, and I would love to see them in court.”
Lothian and Borders Police confirmed they were investigating CCTV footage of the area, but were unable to trace where the dog had come from.
A spokesman said: “The dog is still at large and given its nature, our advice to anyone who sees it would be to not go near it and phone police immediately.”
Only last week the RSPCA issued a statement saying the breed were the country’s most abandoned dog.
Scottish SPCA spokesperson Jo Wilson said that while they can be good pets, owners must be responsible for their actions.
She said: “This is an incredibly tragic and horrific incident for the owners of the small dogs.
“But we would hope it’s the deed and not the breed which gets punished.
“Staffies can be brilliant family dogs and if one does suddenly become aggressive, we advise owners to please take them to a vet rather than dump them as sadly appears to be the case here.”