East Northants man strangled biting dog to death

Northampton Magistrates' Court
Northampton Magistrates' Court

An East Northants man attacked by an ‘unruly’ dog at his own home strangled it in an attempt to stop it from biting him.

Kevin Howard, 57, faced magistrates in Northampton yesterday (Monday) with wife Christine, 71, both charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The court heard the Howards, of Park Street in Kings Cliffe, saw their neighbours’ Border Terrier puppy Winston with one of their chickens in its mouth on August 1 last year in a scene described as ‘carnage’.

Mrs Howard caught the dog and shouted at her husband to ‘get the gun’ before passing the puppy to her husband as it bit him.

An eyewitness said she heard Mr Howard hit the dog with the barrel of his gun ‘eight or nine times’ as he sat on it, although Mr Howard said he only hit it three times.

Mr Howard held the dog by the scruff of its neck in an attempt to prize its jaw off him but strangled it in the process.

Her husband carried the dog out to the drive by its legs, covered in blood from a chicken, as the dog’s owner and his 10-year-old son arrived.

He then said: “I doubt it will survive.”

A vet said the dog died from strangulation.

The dog’s owner, in a victim statement read out in court, described Howard’s actions as ‘unspeakable’ and a ‘cruel way to kill a puppy’.

The court heard the dog had previously killed 16 of the Howards’ chickens - which the dog’s owner had compensated them for - and chased a cat inside their house.

Mitigating, Andy Cave said the Howards were not animal abusers but animal lovers.

He said: “They’ve spent years rescuing animals, looking after stray animals and cats and dogs at their own expense.

“Their chicken coup could be described as a five star chicken coup.”

Mr Howard reported the incident to the police himself and said he was distraught at what had happened.

He told officers he had killed the dog with his bare hands but the court heard police initially told him he had done nothing wrong as he was protecting his livestock.

Mr Cave added: “They did not try to shoot the dog because that’s not in their nature.

“He had to try and get the dog off him.

“They’ve never done anything like this before and they will never do it again.”

The Howards denied the charges they faced but were found guilty after a day-long trial earlier this year.

The court heard the trial placed such a strain on Mrs Howard she collapsed outside court and had to be resuscitated.

Chairman of the bench David Smith sentenced Mr Howard to a 12-month community order with 10 days of rehabilitation requirements.

He was ordered to pay compensation to the family of £212.50, £75 to the 10-year-old boy and a victim surcharge of £85.

Mrs Howard was fined £98 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30.

The pair must also pay trial court costs of £775 between them.