A METER reader sprayed an aerosol into a dog’s eyes as he visited a Huddersfield property to check a meter.
Aaron Sykes, 44, of Ridgeway, Dalton, called at the home of a couple who owned a black Labrador on March 27 last year.
He told the couple he was there to read their meter and they let him in.
But minutes later the dog called Bilbo came running in with his eyes streaming.
Bilbo’s owner could see that something had been sprayed into the dog’s eyes and questioned Sykes about it, but he denied all knowledge of the incident.
But appearing before Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court yesterday for sentencing, Sykes admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the black Labrador.
Mr Andrew Davidson, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “Bilbo was locked behind a high gate near to the side door.
“As Sykes was in the house Bilbo came running in smelling of mint, drooling and his eyes were streaming.
“Mr Prendergast, the dog’s owner, had the view that something untoward had happened and noticed the defendant had an aerosol.”
At the time of the incident, Sykes was employed by Meter Plus, working on behalf of Npower.
All employees are given the Bite Back spray to use on dogs if they pose a risk.
But Mr Davidson said the dog was safely behind a locked gate.
The dog’s owners were so upset by what happened they called the police and RSPCA.
During interview, Sykes gave a confused account of what had happened.
But he later entered a guilty plea when charged with causing Bilbo unnecessary suffering.
Mr Bob Carr, for Sykes, said: “During the course of his long employment, he came across dogs on a daily basis.
“Many people are attacked by dogs on a daily basis and the spray is provided for their safety.
“It is designed to cause no injuries to the animal.
“He acted the way he did in panic.
“If a lion jumps up at you in a cage in the zoo, you will jump. If a dog jumps up at you from behind a gate, you will jump.”
Magistrates imposed a community order on Sykes for 12 months, which requires him to complete 50 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £200 court costs.
The magistrates’ also raised concerns about the spray that was used, which was two years out of date.