A self-proclaimed 3-pound dog psychologist’s sheepdog could be ordered to be put down after he taunted a police officer and bit his buttocks.
PC Michael Obern cried out in pain as the large Carpathian sheepdog chewed through his pants and underwear to his left buttock, a court heard.
In October 2021, the officer was helping Sankey move some belongings to a Travelodge in Devizes, Wiltshire, when the dog turned on him, prosecutors said.
The female dog – named Shroom – also attacked a woman at 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 charges after hearing Sankey’s bizarre defense in which she said the dog was very intelligent and knew “more than 300 commands in Latin,” while also claiming both victims’ injuries were “self-inflicted.” .
The Public Prosecution Service is now submitting a request to destroy the 40 kg dog.
Gemma Sankey (pictured), 51, has now been convicted of failing to control a dangerous animal
Carpathian Sheepdogs originated in Romania, where they were bred for their size and strength to protect livestock from bears and wolves. They are said to be ‘fearless’ and make excellent watchdogs.
Sankey, 51, told the court she had worked as a dog psychologist for more than 35 years with a special knowledge of “canine aggression,” but prosecutors said she had no formal qualifications and should not be considered “an expert.”
The officer revealed that he had been warned by Sankey at a previous meeting not to wear safety gear as this would cause the dog to ‘react’.
The Wiltshire police officer, who knew Sankey from his days as a community support officer, told magistrates that is why he chose to wear a black police vest in an attempt to appease the animal.
But he told Salisbury Magistrates Court that when he approached the dog he attacked it almost immediately: ‘I managed to pet her but then she bit my left buttock.
“It ripped my pants, ripped my boxer shorts, and broke the skin.”
PC Michael Obern (pictured) cried out in pain as the large Carpathian Sheepdog chewed right through his trousers and underwear at his left buttock
PC Obern added that the dog was on a lead but was rather tall and had told Mrs Sankey to bring the dog inside.
“I had a bruise for a week, but a few months before that I had been bitten by a human in another incident, so I had already had a tetanus shot,” he said.
The court was shown bodycam footage taken by PC Obern showing him petting the dog.
Moments later, the police officer was heard screaming in pain as the dog bit his buttock off-camera.
Magistrates learned that two months earlier, in July 2021, Sankey was 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 she had gone down to help her mother prepare a tent 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 “jumped out” at her and bit the back of her left thigh.
Ms Vincent told the court: ‘She has taken Gemma off her stand.
“I told Gemma ‘your dog just bit me’.
“She was a very big dog.
“She said ‘no, that’s not true, there’s no hole in your pants’.
“Gemma said ‘show me your leg’, but I didn’t want to take my pants off in the middle of a field and show a stranger my thigh.
“When I looked later, I saw red circles along the slip line.”
Ms. Vincent added that she knew Shroom had bitten through two leads in the past while tied to a picnic bench.
Magistrates learned that Sankey (pictured) was staying in a tent on a “glamping site” two months earlier, in July 2021, when Shroom bit a woman who was cleaning tents.
“I don’t blame Shroom at all – being tied up all the time is not conducive to good behavior.
“If it had been a small child, it could have been a very serious injury.”
Sankey, of Amesbury, Wilts, denied both offenses and said her dog had not bit PC Obern or Mrs. Vincent.
She told the court, “When Shroom gets terribly excited, she occasionally jumps up.
“She knows over 300 commands in Latin, so you could say she’s tangled up for a very long time.
“The photo of Mrs. Vincent’s injury looks like a ‘spotted bum’, not a digger bite.
PC Obern slapped Shroom and then he turned around.
“His injuries were not caused by a bite from Shroom — a Chihuahua would have made more bite marks.”
She told the hearing that she was an expert in animal behavior and had previously owned “four dogs and 15 horses.”
Prosecutor Natalie Cheesman, however, told the court that there was no evidence that Sankey was an expert in canine aggression and that she had no relevant qualifications.
She continued, “The bite left PC Obern crying out in pain before walking away.
“Ms. Sankey denies what Shroom is capable of.
Carpathian Sheepdogs originated in Romania where they were bred for their size and strength (Pictured: Carpathian Sheepdog stock image)
“I think you can see that the two incidents are very similar.”
Magistrates deliberated for just 30 minutes before Sankey was found guilty of two counts of leading a dog that got dangerously out of control and caused injury.
She will be sentenced at a later date.
The court heard that Shroom has been held in police custody since he bit PC Obern and that the prosecution would now file a request for quashing.