And Sheila McNeill says ‘a cloud has been lifted’ over the future of her three-year-old cross collie, which was alleged to have bitten the tip off a woman’s finger.
In court on Monday, Sheriff George Jamieson delivered a not proven verdict and said there couldn’t be any reasonable doubt that the dog, Cullen, had bitten the woman’s finger. However, he said there had to be a reasonable doubt that Mrs McNeill could have had a reasonable apprehension that this would happen.
The court had heard that Eunice Larkins, 51, was delivering leaflets for a loan company at Barkerland Avenue in Dumfries when the incident happened in March last year.
She told the court that when she was putting a leaflet through the low letterbox of a flat she felt her hand grabbed and growling like a dog playing with a toy and after struggling to pull her hand free saw the top of the finger had been torn off.
She was taken to Dumfries Infirmary and underwent surgery where a further part of the finger had to be taken off.
Mrs McNeill, 65, who had denied the charge, claimed she had had the dog for nearly three years since getting him from kennels when he was 11 months old and claimed he was not a biter otherwise she would have had him put down.
And kennel workers who had trained the dog to certificate level and groomed it said in evidence that they had no concerns – and that it showed no aggression whatsoever.
Solicitor Vivienne Caldwell described McNeill as a very capable dog owner despite the “very unfortunate circumstances.”
As she left the court, Mrs McNeill said: “I’m so relieved — Cullen is such a good dog and the verdict is like a cloud has been lifted.”