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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Man jailed over 'cats' attack dog
Robert Harper
The officer believes Robert Harper had used the command before
A 22-year-old man who trained his dog to attack people when he said "cats" has been jailed for five years.

Robert Harper used the command when a police officer visited his house in Moss Side, Manchester, last year.

Sgt Chris Allsop was bitten six times on both arms by "Big Fella" - Harper's Bull Mastiff cross breed - and needed hospital treatment.

Harper, who admitted assault at an earlier hearing, was jailed at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Allsop said he thought the sentence was "appropriate".

The officer went to a house on Wykeham Street, Moss Side, in the early hours of 16 December following reports of a domestic disturbance.

It was jumping up to my face, trying to bite me
Sgt Chris Allsop

It was when he tried to stop Harper fleeing the scene that the offender began to make a tutting noise, later identified as being the "ts" part of "cats".

As soon as Big Fella heard the prompt he leapt at the officer and bit him up to six times.

"It looked okay at first, it was quite calm, but as soon as Harper started making these sounds, like clicking or hissing sounds, the dog went absolutely berserk," said Mr Allsop.

"It was jumping up to my face, trying to bite me.

"Harper said in court that he knew the dog reacted to that word. He knew how to make it violent and aggressive.

"He was actively encouraging it and he's certainly used the word before."

Mr Allsop managed to call for help on his radio and Harper, from Dorset Avenue in Moss Side, was arrested and later charged with assault.

The officer was treated for bite wounds at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and has been left with scars on both his arms.

Big Fella, who was impounded by police after the attack, is likely to be destroyed.

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