GENTLE giant Leela the American Akita is a treasured family pet.
The “soft” three-year-old politely gives her paw, loves watching the world go by her Wingerworth home and pulled children on a sleigh during last winter’s heavy snow.
But owner Tracy Hendon says people are judging Akitas after one killed another dog as its owner stood by in Holmebrook Valley Country Park.
“I have had people pick up their dog and cross the road,” said the mum, 40.
“If a 20-year-old stabs another 20-year-old, you don’t judge all people the same age because of that.
“What I want to say is if anybody is walking with their dog or their child just ask me, don’t give a funny look or cross the road, don’t judge us by the kind of dog we’ve got.”
Letters have flooded in to the Derbyshire Times after a reader reported in June that a woman watched as her terrier was killed by an Akita at Holmebrook.
It is claimed the larger dog’s male owner showed no remorse, became verbally abusive then left.
Dog walkers have said they fear using the park or urged the offending man – who is still at large – to come forward.
Tracy heard of the attack at her job as a pub chef and decided to speak out after seeing the Derbyshire Times’ coverage.
She said: “It’s absolutely disgusting. The woman that’s lost her dog must be heartbroken, I know I would be if I lost Leela and my heart goes out to her.
“The man doesn’t deserve an Akita, a poodle or any kind of dog. They really need to find him and have the dog taken away.”
Tracy said any dog could attack and the Akita could not be judged for the way it had been raised.
The family shared stories of Leela being a shy, obedient dog. She added: “I keep Leela on a lead in the park unless there’s nobody around, if somebody is we put her on a lead, that’s courtesy to anybody. It’s how you bring them up, just like kids. Leela is as soft as anything.”
Anyone with information about the attack can call Chesterfield Borough Council on 01245 345345.
l The Derbyshire Times is keen to speak with the woman whose dog was killed. Please call 01246 504500.