The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

Owner of hunting dog Dogo Argentino handed suspended sentence after attack on woman

Monday, 27 March 2017, 13:28 Last update: about 3 years ago

The owner of a Dogo Argentinos, a hunting dog breed, and other dogs, was charged this morning with a number of offences relating to a dog attack on a woman near Manoel Island yesterday afternoon.

After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for four years. The court also ordered that all dogs in the man's possession are to be immediately seized by animal welfare and homes. He was also prohibited from keeping any dogs, and he ultimately declared that he does not want to be a dog owner anymore.

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The accused, David Farrugia from Gzira, received heavy criticism across social media for being an irresponsible owner of a large, strong and smart breed of dog, and tacitly allowing a number of these incidents to take place.

Prosecuting Inspector Mark A Mercieca levelled the charges against Mr Farrugia of grievously injuring a woman, insulted her together and her partner, failing to keep his dogs under control, creating a perilous situation and also charged him with a number offences related to keeping a“dangerous dog” as classified under Maltese law. Dogo Argentino, American Pitbull Terrier, Tosa Inu and Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff) are breeds deemed to be dangerous at law.

The offences relate to failing to muzzle the dogs, keeping them off a lead and failing to prevent the dogs from being a nuisance.

In addition to the above, Mr Farruga was also charged, at a later stage, with threatening and/or insulting law enforcement officers and disrupting public order. The charge of threatening and/or insulting law enforcement was then dropped during the court hearing.

Gzira residents have now become afraid of the dogs and do not feel safe after yesterday’s attack. Mr Farrugia’s son had found an alternative home for most of the dogs while another one was in the process of being rehomed. A lawyer representing the accused said that one of the dogs was certified as not being dangerous.

Inspector Mercieca highlighted the fact that one of the dogs was also involved in another attack. Local media reports have repeatedly published stories of a Dogo Argentino attacking people in Gzira over the past few months.

Yesterday’s incident took place in the afternoon, when at about 2.30pm the police were informed that a foreign woman had suffered grievous injury and was being treated in hospital after being attacked by a dog. Eyewitnesses informed the police of the dog which caused the attack, and therefore identified the owner. It then emerged that Mr Farrugia has a string of pending cases over similar incidents.

Animal welfare officers together with the police went to the home of the accused where he resisted arrest and is even said to have threatened to unleash his dogs on the authorities. Local media reports also claimed that a vet had discovered that the dogs were trained to attack on command. It also transpired that the Dogo Argentino involved in yesterday’s attack had been the offspring of the dog which attacked a 70-year-old woman in Sir Charles Cameron Street last August.

That case resulted in the dog being euthanized at the request of the owner, while the case is still ongoing in court.

On 14 March, in the same road, the Dogo Argentino which is said to have caused the attack yesterday also attacked another five people. The case is expected to begin in court on 3 April, while Mr Farrugia is said to have another five separate pending cases in court over similar incidents.

Defence Lawyer Gian Luca Caruana Curran told the court that there had been some issues in certifying the injuries of the victim, while Dr Gianella de Marco, also representing the defence, informed Magistrate Francesco Depasquale that the accused would be pleading guilty.

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