A couple who welcomed a new puppy into their lives after struggling to conceive are heartbroken after the pooch was savagely mauled by a bullmastiff.
James Brise and Sophie Snowball-Brise have now issued a warning as they fear other dogs and even people could be attacked by the powerful dog.
Sophie, 33, said: “I’m absolutely heartbroken. We have been in shock since it happened and it’s only now that we realise that she is not going to be there every time we open the door.
“She had become such a big part of our lives even in the short time we had her.
“We were so looking forward to this year with her.”
But their dream of a new family life was shattered when three-month-old puppy Mia was attacked as personal trainer James walked her in a field behind Wingrave Road, Tring last Wednesday afternoon (January 6).
James at first believed the two bullmastiffs – both off the lead – were approaching to play.
He told the Gazette: “One of the dogs literally picked her up, held her in his mouth for a couple of seconds and then shook her.
“That animal was trying to kill my puppy. It had no other intention.”
The dog only released Mia when its owner hit it on the head with a lead but it was too late to save little Mia.
The working cocker spaniel had suffered punctured lungs and broken ribs when the dog sunk its teeth into her and catastrophically her spine was fractured leaving her paralysed.
After rushing her to Springwell Vets in Tring and then to a specialist vets in Luton where scans were carried out the couple had no choice but to have the much-loved pet put to sleep.
James, who suffered bite injuries to one of his fingers during the attack, said: “We got her because we can’t have kids. She really was our baby.”
To add to their heartbreak, the couple have been saddled with £5,000 in vets bills, which they will pay using savings put aside for future fertility treatment.
Sophie said: “The money was there to seek private care to try and make our dream come true. It is such a double whammy.”
Since sharing their trauma on social media to warn other dog owners, three people have come forward to say they have been involved in violent incidents with the two dogs.
Sadly, these were never reported to the authorities, although those involved have now pledged to do so.
Sophie said: “I wish they had reported it. It is scary that the didn’t.”
The couple want the dogs to be muzzled and kept on leads when in public and to be assessed by expert animal behaviourists.
A RSPCA spokesman said: “This is a really tragic incident, was extremely distressing for the owners of the puppy and our thoughts are with them.
“We will always look into, and if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare, but many issues will be dealt with by advice and education and it is not always appropriate to publicise this information for legal and data protection reasons.”
A police spokesman said no criminal offences had occurred and added that the incident has now been passed on to the borough’s dog warden.