A DOG is facing the death sentence after savaging a three-year-old girl in a pub.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback cross sank its teeth into the little girl’s shoulder and lifted her off her feet in front of horrified families.

It then pinned her to the ground for several seconds before being pulled away by its owner.

The victim was taken to Southampton General Hospital and given a general anaesthetic before being treated for puncture wounds to her arm and shoulder.

Rachel Lile, prosecuting, told New Forest magistrates that the girl was likely to be scarred for life following the attack, which occurred at the Haywain pub in Cadnam on August 16.

The animal’s owner, Aaron Clifford, 21, of Calmore Drive, Totton, admitted allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

He was warned that he could be jailed and the dog destroyed when he is sentenced on November 11.

The court heard that the animal had growled at another child on the same day as the incident involving the girl and snapped at a four-year-old boy last year.

But Clifford last night begged magistrates to spare Reggie’s life, saying that he was normally a docile dog and had never bitten anyone before.

Since the incident the dog now wears a muzzle and has been neutered.

“My girlfriend and I had been for a walk and stopped off at the pub on the way home,” said Clifford.

“Reggie was tied to a picnic bench away from everyone else but suddenly jumped up when a child ran past. We called the ambulance ourselves and put the dog in the car.”

Clifford said that the two-year-old animal might have been affected by the exceptionally hot weather.

He added that the child could have accidentally stepped on the dog’s tail, which had been caught in a door, causing a painful injury.

“I’m very upset about the girl but this was a one-off. Reggie didn’t eat for two weeks – he knew he’d done wrong.

“I never meant it to happen and didn’t see it coming. I only pleaded guilty because he did actually bite someone.”

Urging the magistrates not to issue a destruction order, he said: “He means the world to me and I’d be distraught if he had to be put down. He’s my little boy – I don’t care how big he is.

“All my mates have children and he’s fine with them. I just hope the court decides to give him another chance.”