A WOMAN has apologised after her Staffordshire bull terrier attacked two other dogs and bit the hand of one of the owners who was trying to separate the animals.

Samantha Williams sobbed in the dock as a court heard of the distress of that owner fearing for her pet as the larger Staffy shook it from side to side in its mouth.

Durham Crown Court was told Williams had only owned the five-year-old bitch, Tara, for three weeks at the time of the incident, on August 6 last year.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said she returned to her home in Framwellgate Moor, Durham, at 9.30pm and let the dog out into the garden, but noticed it had disappeared a short time later.

Mr Sabiston said it appeared to have then roamed almost half-a-mile to the Front Street, where it attacked a smaller dog being walked by its female owner.

In trying to release her dog the woman’s hand was bitten, causing a puncture wound which drew blood.

The dogs were separated and police, who had been summoned, took her pet to the vets where it underwent treatment for an injury almost to the bone in its shoulder area.

Mr Sabiston said the Staffy, however, went on to attack a second dog, a cocker spaniel, which was also being walked in the area.

It was only freed with the intervention of other members of the public, but like the first injured dog, it required vets' treatment for a two inch gash to its neck.

Mr Sabiston said the Staffy was eventually brought under control by police, and, with Williams’ permission, was destroyed within a few days.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Sabiston, the owner of the first dog attacked said the incident left her shaken and fearful of taking her dog out in public, as she was "petrified” when other dogs approached.

Williams, 19, of Lilac Avenue, admitted being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control.

Kieran Rainey, mitigating, told the court: “You have before you a young woman who is truly sorry for the behaviour of her animal.

“She wants, though me, to express her deep remorse for what happened.

“She had no reason to believe that something like this would happen as it had been a family dog previously and there was nothing in its behaviour in the weeks she had it to indicate it had any aggressive traits.”

Mr Rainey said although she was advised to muzzle the dog when it was taken out, it not only escaped the garden, it also slipped the muzzle, which had not been properly attached when it went outside.

Mr Rainey said it may seem “ironic” but Williams is studying animal care at college, and any ban from owning animals may hinder her future career path.

Recorder Tahir Khan said in the circumstances he felt he could step back from imposing a disqualification order.

But her ordered Williams to perform 140-hours’ unpaid work and pay an £85 court surcharge.