A DISTRAUGHT family from York have called for stronger rules on control of dangerous dogs, after their ten-week old puppy was mauled in a public field.

David Sowden and his wife, Debbie, were taking their springer spaniel Sebastian out for his first walk on Clifton Ings when a black Staffordshire bull terrier raced across the field and attacked the puppy.

David said: “We’d actually taken him there to let him out for the first time because it is such a safe, open expanse. He’d just finished his last round of inoculations two weeks ago.”

David grabbed the terrier by its harness, and managed to free Sebastian from its jaws, suffering bites to his hands in the process.

“Then it started shaking Sebastian, and I was worried it would break the dog’s neck,” he said.

“I could see his face in its mouth and he looked terrified. I still can’t get that image out of my head, it’s horrendous.”

David managed to free the puppy and he and Debbie rushed Sebastian to the Minster Vetinary Practice in Salisbury Road.

Richard Sunley, 24, from Acomb, was jogging with friends when he saw the attack, and spoke to the woman with the Staffordshire.

He said: “She said she had given her number to David and accepted full responsibility for what had happened, and that she had been walking the dog a while and it had never done anything like this before.”

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson confirmed the 44-year-old woman walking the Staffordshire bull terrier was not the owner of the dog, and had been cautioned for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

Earlier this month, a four-year-old girl was attacked by a dog, thought to be a Staffordshire bull terrier, while walking with her parents in Stonegate.

The girl was bitten on her face, and the owner of the dog did not stop on that occasion.

David said the number of attacks by Staffordshire bull terriers and similar dogs showed the need for tighter guidelines on dog ownership. “If these people wish to potentially endanger their own family, on their own property, then so be it. In public, there should be a zero tolerance approach,” he said. “I’ve done nothing but think about this over the weekend and now realise that calls for licensing and micro-chipping of these types of dogs are irrelevant, and would not have changed our situation.”