A WOMAN has been spared jail for dangerous dog offences after a parish council boss broke his own hand fighting off two dogs which were mauling his family pet.

Winsford beauty therapist Sarah Southern, 42, ignored a court ruling ordering her to muzzle her Staffordshire Bull Terriers and watched as the animals pounced on Tony Gabbott's Alsatian puppy Dougie during an afternoon stroll.

Four-month-old Dougie was dragged 12 feet away from its master and savaged severely on the side of its face, leaving it with muscle and flesh torn from its head. The animal also suffered fractured ribs during the incident.

Mr Gabbott, 56, a certified financial planner and chairman of Plumley with Toft and Bexton Parish Council, suffered broken bones in his right hand as he repeatedly punched one of the terriers and bit its ear in a bid to drive it away.

He was said to be 'very upset and shaken up' after the incident on June 9 on a country lane in Plumley, and went to hospital while vets carried out almost £2,000 worth of surgery to save Dougie.

Inquiries revealed Southern had ignored a court ruling passed just two months earlier ordering her to keep her dogs Bear and Carly on a lead and muzzled in public following a previous incident in which another man was bitten.

Prosecutors believe she had deliberately taken them for a walk 10 miles from her home in Winsford in the hope the animals would not be recognised.

At Chester Crown Court, Southern admitted owning a dog dangerously out of control causing injury and was sentenced to 12 months jail, suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to pay the vets bills of £1,828 plus £750 compensation to Mr Gabbott and was banned from keeping dogs for life.

The two terriers had faced being destroyed but both will be spared under the terms of a 'Contingency Destruction Order'.

They must also be muzzled and on a lead in public and be registered to the owner's address. It is believed Southern has transferred ownership of the terriers to a friend.

Prosecuting, Carl Scholz said: "[Southern] was made subject to an order meaning the dogs had to be kept on a lead or muzzled.

"But two months later, she was exercising the dogs off the lead without a muzzle along a public footpath in Plumley. She was taking the dogs from an area away from her home and without muzzling or putting on lead.

"She was quite clearly determined to ignore the conditions imposed but didn't want neighbours recognising her.

''Mr Gabbott was walking his German Shepherd puppy. He had let his dog off the lead and noticed the presence of a woman towards whom the puppy ran.

''He ran after his dog and apologised and the woman said: "It's alright, this one is fine." But she then pointed to another Staffordshire Bull Terrier which was standing on the other side of the footbridge and she said: "That one can be a bit grumpy."

"Mr Gabbott then decided to put his own puppy on a lead but whilst he was doing that the dog Bear bit the puppy in the right side of its face with sufficient force it took the dog four metres away. Dougie was then pinned to the ground whilst being savaged.

''The defendant did shout at this point: "Get it off," but she made no steps to remove the dog.

''Mr Gabbott found himself punching the dog four or five times to the head yet was unable to get the dog to let the puppy go.

''He bent over to the side of the dogs face in order to bite into the dogs ear in the hope it would stop but the situation became worse because the second dog, Carly came forward and took part in savaging Dougie.

''Bear was to release its bite and when it did so the second dog lost interest.

"Mr Gabbott was clearly upset and he talks of sitting there holding his dog and phoning his wife and asking her to get there as quick as possible. He was to ask the woman for her details but she indicated that she came from Wilmslow.

"He became conscious that he was experiencing pain in his right hand and it was swelling. Whilst his wife and daughter took the puppy to the vet he went straight to hospital.

"The dog had sustained a broken cheek and ribs. Muscle and flesh had been torn from his head and he suffered multiple lacerations.

''Mr Gabbott learnt his attempts meant that in punching the dog he fractured two bones from his right hand.

"The defendant was traced because of neighbours who recognised a plea put on Facebook by the man's daughter. She was interviewed by police and answered no comment. She has made no efforts to offer the victim any compensation."

South was also ordered to complete 250 hours unpaid work and pay £500 costs.

In mitigation her lawyer James Coutts said: "This is not a case where she has not demonstrated remorse. She had not been able to go behind the courts back and seek out the complainant - but her partner did though try and reach him to offer compensation.

"She is terrified of the prospect of a custodial sentence. One of the dogs has a very sentimental link to her due to her late brother. This perhaps gives an insight into the flawed thought process that was going through her mind – her judgement was clearly clouded.

But the judge Mr Recorder Simon Parrington told Southern: "You took your dogs out for a walk in public in contravention of an order and they savaged another dog and a member of the public received injury.

"You knew the terms of the previous order but failed to abide by them.

''I am sure you didn't go out with the intention of another dog being savaged but you what did lacked common sense.

"Those who keep dogs must accept responsibility - especially for those dogs which cause risk of harm to others.''