A former Manchester United player has been fined after his XL Bully dog attacked a labrador and its owner in Bradford. Wayne Heseltine, who came through United’s academy but never made a first-team appearance, admitted to being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control causing injury and was fined £960.
Heseltine has also been ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation after his dog, Bruno, bit a labrador called Daisy and her owner as he tried to pull them apart. Bradford Magistrates Court heard that Bruno sprinted after Daisy while she was on a walk with her owner in the Cullingworth area of the city back in June.
Daisy’s owner told the court he thought she was ‘going to die’ as a result of the vicious attack, which left her needing veterinary treatment after suffering cuts to her neck. Her owner also sustained injuries to his hand in his efforts to separate the dogs, with Heseltine’s son rushing out of the house to assist in breaking up the altercation.
The court heard that Bruno appeared to lock his jaw around Daisy’s neck, leaving her helpless on the floor. In a statement read out to the court, her owner said: “I felt extremely distressed. I felt like I was going to watch Daisy die.”
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Heseltine was not in the house at the time but explained that Bruno escaped through a hole in the fence and offered to pay Daisy’s veterinary bills, according to the Daily Star. The court heard that he had no previous convictions and a ‘shield of good character’, while magistrates also recognised that he took all of the reasonable steps that a good owner would have taken.
However, the court determined that the matter was ‘serious’ especially given the breed of dog involved and the upcoming legislation to ban people in the UK from owning them, unless they have an exemption certificate. It will be illegal to own an XL Bully from February next year, while those exempted must be microchipped and owners must keep them on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public.
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Heseltine owns three other dogs and reportedly spent £2,800 on a four-week course to get Bruno home-trained. His defence told the court that he now works as a contract manager, earning around £50,000 a year, and referenced his professional football career before adding that he did ‘not want this on his record’.
The former United full-back, now 53, enjoyed a decent career in the lower leagues of English football after leaving the Red Devils without playing in a senior match. He made 54 league appearances for Bradford City between 1992 and 1994 and also had spells at Grimsby Town and Guiseley before hanging up his boots.
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