A WOMAN’S pet dog bit her ex-partner during a row, leaving him badly injured.

Rebecca Stanger punched former boyfriend Liam Gardiner in the face and told American Bull Dog Luna to “get” him.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Mr Gardiner was bitten several times on the arm and body and needed hospital treatment for his wounds.

As her trial was about to start Stanger, aged 28, pleaded guilty to allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control and causing injury.

Recorder Andrew Long sentenced her to 18 months in prison, suspended for 18 months after hearing she has only one previous conviction for criminal damage. Stanger was also ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work and participate in 15 days of rehabilitation activities.

But Mr Long did not order that Luna should be destroyed, telling Stanger that pet had thought she was protecting her owner. The victim had also requested that the dog be spared.

Andrea Lock, prosecuting, told how Stanger had been in a relationship with Mr Gardiner for several years but it had ended three weeks before the incident. On the day before the dog attack on September 15 last year the pair had been drinking heavily following a family funeral and Gardiner stayed over at Stanger’s Hughes Street home.

Drinking continued the next day and an argument broke out during which Mr Gardiner punched a wall.

“The response of the defendant was to punch him to the face,” said Miss Lock.

Mr Gardiner refused to leave.

“Unsuprisingly the defendant’s dog, and America Bull Dog called Luna, picked up on the atmosphere and got very upset and started barking at Mr Gardiner,” said Miss Lock.

“Rather than trying to calm the dog down or remove her from the situation the defendant’s response was to tell the dog she was a ‘good girl’ and she could ‘get’ Mr Gardiner.

“And that the dog did, biting him on his arm and to his body.”Mr Gardiner escaped to a sideroom and called a taxi to take him to hospital. In a victim statement Mr Gardiner said he has been left “in a mess” by the incident and Stanger had “gone too far.”

“He is concerned about what will happen to the dog. He is a dog owner and a dog lover himself and doesn’t want any implications for her,” said Miss Lock.

Robert Elias, defending, said the prosecution has been “a salutary and frightening experience” for mum-of-one Stanger.

Sentencing her, Recorder Long said: “While I am satisfied you did not deliberately use Luna as a weapon, I am sure you encouraged her when, perhaps believing that circumstances were such that she was defending you, she in fact attacked Mr Gardiner.”

He added that the attack was an isolated incident, adding: “You are, otherwise, a responsible dog owner and Luna is a much loved family pet.”

But he warned Stanger: “Understand this — you must keep her under proper control in the future. If she were to bite someone again she will certainly be destroyed.”