TWO women who were in charge of a Staffordshire Bull terrier when it attacked a man in Regent Street have said the dog should not have been put down.

Leanne Hurd, 23, of Wroughton, and Helen Westall, 26, of Eastleaze, pleaded guilty to allowing a dog in their care to be dangerously out of control in a public place and cause injury at Swindon Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

On October 15 last year, the one-year-old Staffy, called Whitepaws, attacked Ashish Verma while he was walking through the town centre, causing injuries to his arm.

Vivian Thatcher, prosecuting, told the court the dog had been off its lead and caused the victim concern: “He had a laptop bag with him, and he used that to ward the dog off, which snapped and barked at him,” said Mr Thatcher.

“He ran away from the dog which gave chase and he was bitten on the arm. A member of the public intervened and pulled the dog off. One of the ladies concerned pulled the dog away.”

Mr Verma has now returned to his native India.

“He described how he spent a lot of his time in this country in hospital or speaking to the police,” said Mr Thatcher.

“He says he is extremely scared of dogs, and he has now gone back to India. He says he is worried that if he comes back to England it may happen again.”

Rob Ross, defending, said the dog was usually well-tempered and the defendants had simply been trying to look after him.

“It is quite clear that the dog did not belong to these two ladies,” he said. “They have indicated they took the chance to take this dog for a walk at any opportunity because it was not being looked after properly.

“CCTV shows the dog running up to the victim, who probably did not stand still and ignore it, which is the only way to deal with it in those circumstances.

“He was nervous, his rucksack slipped, he ran off, so the dog bit him. PC Steven Duffy, during inquiries, decided the dog is a prohibited species, and it has now been destroyed.

“This is an unfortunate incident... the dog has now been destroyed, and it will not hurt anyone in the future.” added Mr Ross.

The defendants, speaking after the hearing, said the dog was not dangerous and they had been trying to care for him.

“He was being passed from pillar to post, and his owner was not keeping him in a steady home,” said Leanne.

“We were just looking after him. He was not a dangerous dog. We always walked him on the leash and only took him off when we felt confident he was not going to cause any harm.

“It was an unfortunate accident that happened. Even our children have been around the dog and we have never had any problems. He did not deserve to be put down.”

The two women were ordered to pay compensation to the victim of £75 each and court costs of £85 between them.