6st Romanian sheepdog mauled a policeman's bottom
Self-styled dog psychologist whose 6st Romanian sheepdog named Shroom mauled a policeman’s bottom as he helped her move into a Travelodge from her parents’ glamping site faces having her pet put down
- Gemma Sankey, 51, said she had knowledge of ‘canine aggression’ over 35 years
- Ms Sankey has now been convicted of failing to control a dangerous animal
A self-styled canine psychologist’s 6st 3lbs shepherd dog could be ordered to be put down after it savaged a policeman, biting into his bottom.
PC Michael Obern screamed out in agony as the large Carpathian Shepherd Dog chomped straight through his trousers and underwear and into his left buttock, a court heard.
In October 2021, the officer was helping Sankey move some items into a Travelodge in Devizes, Wiltshire, when the dog turned on him, prosecutors said.
The female dog – called Shroom – also attacked a woman on a glamping site and its owner, Gemma Sankey, has now been convicted of failing to control a dangerous animal.
Magistrates found her guilty of two counts after hearing Sankey’s bizarre defence in which she said the dog was very intelligent and knew ‘more than 300 commands in Latin’, while also claiming both the victims’ injuries were ‘self inflicted’.
The Crown Prosecution Service is now submitting an application for the 40kg dog to be destroyed.
Gemma Sankey (pictured), 51, has now been convicted of failing to control a dangerous animal
Carpathian Shepherd Dogs originate from Romania where they were bred for their size and strength to guard livestock from bears and wolves. They are said to be ‘fearless’ and to make excellent guard dogs.
Sankey, 51, told the court she had worked as a dog psychologist with a special knowledge of ‘canine aggression’ for over 35 years, but prosecutors said she had no formal qualifications, and should not be considered ‘an expert’.
The officer revealed he had been warned by Sankey in a previous meeting not to wear high-vis clothing as this would make the dog ‘react’.
The Wiltshire Police officer, who knew Sankey from his time as a community support officer, told magistrates he therefore chose to wear a black police vest in a bid to appease the animal.
But, he told Salisbury Magistrates Court that when he approached the dog it almost immediately attacked him: ‘I managed to pet her but she then bit my left buttock.
‘It ripped my trousers, ripped my boxer shorts and broke the skin’.
PC Michael Obern (pictured) screamed out in agony as the large Carpathian Shepherd Dog chomped straight through his trousers and underwear and into his left buttock
PC Obern added that the dog was on a lead, but it was quite a long one, and he had told Ms Sankey to take the dog inside.
‘I had a bruise for a week, but I had been bitten by a human in another incident a few months before so I’d already had a tetanus injection,’ he said.
The court was shown bodycam footage captured by PC Obern in which he could be seen petting the dog.
Moments later, the police officer was heard screaming in pain as the dog bit him in the buttock off camera.
Magistrates heard that two months previously, in July 2021, Sankey had been staying in a tent on a ‘glamping site’ when Shroom bit a woman who was cleaning tents.
Michelle Vincent, who lived on her parents’ glamping site in the village of Seend, near Melksham, Wiltshire, told the court that she had gone down to help her mum get a tent ready for a new arrival.
Ms Vincent said that Ms Sankey came out with her dog on a lead and was talking to her mother, when Shroom ‘lunged’ at her and bit the back of her left thigh.
Ms Vincent told the court: ‘She pulled Gemma off her stance.
‘I told Gemma ‘your dog’s just bitten me’.
‘She was a very big dog.
‘She said ‘no it hasn’t, there’s no hole in your trousers’.
‘Gemma said ‘show me your leg,’ but I didn’t want to take my trousers off in the middle of a field and show a stranger my thigh.
‘When I looked later I had red circles along where the knicker line is.’
Ms Vincent added that she knew Shroom has bitten through two leads in the past while tied up to a picnic bench.
Magistrates heard that two months previously, in July 2021, Sankey (pictured) had been staying in a tent on a ‘glamping site’ when Shroom bit a woman who was cleaning tents.
‘I don’t blame Shroom at all – being tied up continually is not conducive to good behaviour.
‘Had it been a small child it could have been a really serious injury.’
Sankey, of Amesbury, Wilts, denied both offences and said her dog did not bite PC Obern or Ms Vincent.
She told the court: ‘When Shroom gets terribly excited she jumps up occasionally.
‘She knows over 300 commands in Latin, so you could say she’s very long in the tooth.
‘The picture of Mrs Vincent’s injury looks like a ‘spotty bum,’ not like a dig bite.
‘PC Obern gave Shroom a slap hit and then he turned away.
‘His injuries were not caused by a bite from Shroom – a Chihuahua would have made more bite marks.’
She told the hearing she was an expert in animal behaviour and had previously owned ‘four dogs and 15 horses’.
However prosecutor Natalie Cheesman told the court there was no evidence Sankey was an expert in canine aggression, and that she had no relevant qualifications.
She continued: ‘The bite made PC Obern scream out in pain before he walked away.
‘Ms Sankey is in denial about what Shroom is capable of.
Carpathian Shepherd Dogs originate from Romania where they were bred for their size and strength (Pictured: stock image of Carpathian Shepherd Dog)
‘I submit that you can tell the two incidents are extremely similar.’
Magistrates deliberated for just 30 minutes before finding Sankey guilty of two counts of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury.
She will be sentenced at a later date.
The court heard Shroom has been kept in police custody since biting PC Obern and that the Crown Prosecution Service would now be submitting an application for a destruction order.
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