A Ballarat magistrate has warned dog owners to keep their pets under control after a meter reader was seriously injured in a frenzied attack last year.
An unregistered American staffordshire terrier attacked Central Highlands Water employee Stephen Dean in the front yard of a Ballarat East home about 9am on July 23.
The 60-year-old had crouched down to read the Humffray Street property's meter when owner Leigh Richards opened her front door and walked outside with her dog, Urkle.
Mr Dean was attacked before he had the chance to read the meter.
His leg was severely damaged and required skin grafts. He now walks with a limp, cannot feel his leg and lost lymph nodes.
Richards admitted her five-year-old dog was unregistered, but would not take responsibility for the dog attack causing serious injury to Mr Dean.
However, after a contested hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Wednesday, the 40-year-old was found guilty of causing the dog attack.
Magistrate Gregory Robinson described the attack as horrendous, saying Mr Dean would never move on from the incident and he was basically a cripple.
"It's not suggested you (Richards) are a person of bad morals. You are a good person who has allowed something to happen to an innocent person going about their job," Mr Robinson said.
"Any animal has the potential to inflict serious injury. Unfortunately you are not the first person in this court saying their dog wasn't aggressive.
"All dogs seem to have that capacity (to be aggressive).
It's a serious example of the offence with life-changing consequences.Magistrate Gregory Robinson
Richards was convicted and fined $5300 and ordered to pay $5500 in court costs.
The victim and Richards gave different accounts of the incident, but the court did not accept most of Richards' evidence.
The magistrate described it as evasive and inconsistent with her statement, which was made almost a year ago.
Richards told the hearing the victim assaulted the dog with a screwdriver which provoked the bite.
"I grabbed Urkle by the neck, put my left arm under his chest to try and get him out of there because he was barking," Richards said.
She said Mr Dean poked her dog with two metal rods before "Urkle pushed me out of the way" and she fell over.
Richards became emotional when she told the court she had control of her dog, holding it by the scruff of the neck.
She did not agree with prosecutor Jim Rutherford the incident was a frenzied and vicious attack. She had earlier described her dog as lovely, playful, happy and good with people.
Mr Dean told the court he did not get a chance to read the meter because a dog was coming at him.
"I hit it a number of times on the head (with a screwdriver) as it was about to attack me. I was just trying to fend it off," Mr Dean said.
"It started ripping me to bits."
Two tradesmen ran to Mr Dean's aid and kicked the dog off him. An ambulance, police and City of Ballarat then arrived.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Dean said his injuries had damaged his life forever and his life would never be the same again.
He said he had been unable to return to work, found it difficult to walk, dress and do chores, he experienced nightmares and he would never be able to travel.
In submitting for a non-conviction, defence barrister Philip Brown said his client had shown remorse by volunteering her dog to be euthanised soon after the attack.
He said a conviction would not help Richards' mental health, including her recovery from post traumatic stress disorder.
The court was told Richards' partner died in a motorcycle accident in 2008, she was the first on the scene of a double fatality in 2012 and her best friend was murdered and her father died in 2015.
Mr Brown said Richards had moved from Darwin to Ballarat shortly before the dog attack.
If Richards pleaded guilty to the charge of dog attack causing serious injury, she would have received a discount on her sentence and it would have saved the victim from giving evidence.
She pleaded guilty to not registering her dog and was fined $800 without conviction. She was convicted and fined $4500 for the dog attack causing serious injury.
Finally, the court ordered she pay $5500 in court costs.