Woman speaks of devastation after Yorkshire Terrier is killed by dog whose owner walked off chatting on mobile phone

Owner chatted on phone while Staffie savaged woman's Yorkshire Terrier in Tooting

Heather and her beloved dog Caro

Heather described Caro as 'the kindest, most beautiful and loving soul I have ever known'

Baby Caro

First published in News
Last updated
Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Chief reporter covering Wandsworth

A woman’s beloved Yorkshire Terrier was shaken to death by a dog while its owner casually walked off chatting on her mobile phone.

Heather Atkins, 33, a lawyer from Balham, has spoken of her devastation after her best friend, 10-year-old Caro, was killed by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier type dog on Tooting Bec Common.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Little Caro and Mrs Atkins were 'thick as thieves'

Tiny Caro, who weighed just 2.5kg, did not stand a chance when the dog clamped its jaws around his neck and shook him on the morning of Tuesday, May 6.

Police are trying to find the dog-owner, a smartly-dressed woman, who allegedly witnessed her dog attack Caro but continued chatting on her mobile phone and walked off.

Grieving owner Mrs Atkins had Caro since he was a puppy and brought him over to the UK when she moved from Las Vegas.

Mrs Atkins and Caro were 'thick as thieves’ and he had been with her through difficult periods in her life. In turn she looked after 'loyal and doting' Caro who had numerous health problems throughout the years.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Best pals: Caro and Luci 

Mrs Atkins’ other dog, a female schnauzer called Luci, loved him and has been suffering, keeping to herself, in the aftermath of his killing.

Mrs Atkins said: "The dog came over very calmly – it never got agitated. There was not a single part of me that thought this was a dog I needed to be wary about. It crouched down as if to play and then went over the top of his neck and clamped down on his neck.

"It shook him – I could see his little face. It probably wasn’t anymore than a couple of seconds.

"The owner did say ‘no’ but it wasn’t like a screaming ‘no’ – it was very passive. She was on her phone. Her dog dropped my dog. There were big teeth marks. I cried at first and held him for a second then I realised I needed to get him to a vets – he didn’t look natural.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Adorable Caro loved bigger dogs and did not realise how tiny he was 

"What kills me is that the owner, a professional woman in her 30s or 40s, who was stood right next to us as this happened, did not have the courtesy or heart to stop her telephone conversation to ask if I needed help with my dog who was not moving after the attack.

"She just walked on and continued her phone call.  Madam, I cannot tell you about the worth of your life or your animal's, but I can tell you that your dog ended the life of the kindest, most beautiful and loving soul I have ever known.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Caro was a daisy while Mrs Atkins was a ladybird for Halloween in 2003

"I was not ready for this end and for your utter lack of humanity or compassion.  I cannot tell you about the worth of your life or your animal's, but I can tell you that my most beloved friend was worth more than your passing glance.

"I hope that someone is kinder to you in the worst moment of your life than you are to others.  And I hope that your dog did not understand what it did and that it has a long life where it is shown love and affection, the way my dogs have always been."

Wandsworth Guardian:

Mrs Atkins Caro and Luci

Mrs Atkins said she does not blame the dog and is not seeking retribution but the dog needed to be muzzled and on a lead.

She also thanked two female joggers who found her crying and tried to help her.


Police are appealing for information to trace the owner of the dog which attacked Caro at about 8.25am near Elmbourne Road.

The dog is described as similar to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and ginger or tan in colour.

Its owner is described as black, aged between 35-45 with short dark hair and of a medium build.

The was smartly dressed with a grey or black and white colour coat.

Anyone with information should contact the Metropolitan Police safer parks team on 0779 563 7356 or email WW-Saferparks@met.police.uk.


The scene near Tooting Bec Common

Comments (5)

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4:54pm Tue 20 May 14

chesty36 says...

Very sad for her, and for her dog. As a regular Common-goer, I think there needs to be a tightening up of dog behaviour in general. Out-of-control dogs on all of the paths should be brought under control and on leads, for the sake of all other users.
Very sad for her, and for her dog. As a regular Common-goer, I think there needs to be a tightening up of dog behaviour in general. Out-of-control dogs on all of the paths should be brought under control and on leads, for the sake of all other users. chesty36
  • Score: 15

6:26pm Tue 20 May 14

QPR4Me says...

This is less about the dog that did the killing and more about the insensitive witch that owned it.
The vast majority of dogs are not a problem. The ones that are, invariably have owners such as this woman.
Maybe it is time to jail these owners for a minimum 12 months stretch, then they might begin to appreciated the need to take responsibility for their dog's actions.
So sorry to hear of Mrs Atkins' loss.
This is less about the dog that did the killing and more about the insensitive witch that owned it. The vast majority of dogs are not a problem. The ones that are, invariably have owners such as this woman. Maybe it is time to jail these owners for a minimum 12 months stretch, then they might begin to appreciated the need to take responsibility for their dog's actions. So sorry to hear of Mrs Atkins' loss. QPR4Me
  • Score: 8

10:56am Wed 21 May 14

Noddyblanket says...

She knew what had happened and that the poor little dog probably wasn't going to make it. They need to be kept on leads. End of. Someone I know had her dog for 8 years and all of a sudden, one day he turned on her and she was seriously injured, This can happen anytime, you can never know and guarantee that a dog won't do this kind of thing. So sad
She knew what had happened and that the poor little dog probably wasn't going to make it. They need to be kept on leads. End of. Someone I know had her dog for 8 years and all of a sudden, one day he turned on her and she was seriously injured, This can happen anytime, you can never know and guarantee that a dog won't do this kind of thing. So sad Noddyblanket
  • Score: 3

11:06pm Thu 22 May 14

MissyM1972 says...

QPR4Me wrote:
This is less about the dog that did the killing and more about the insensitive witch that owned it.
The vast majority of dogs are not a problem. The ones that are, invariably have owners such as this woman.
Maybe it is time to jail these owners for a minimum 12 months stretch, then they might begin to appreciated the need to take responsibility for their dog's actions.
So sorry to hear of Mrs Atkins' loss.
Shocking story and the behaviour of the lady who owns the dog that attacked the Yorkshire Terrier is Disgusting.I hope someone knows who she is and does the right thing and report her.Problem dogs need to be kept in control at all times and on a lead.I have a staffie Mixed **** of 8 years old and another dog that is a Labrador mix that I adopted from Greece.He was a stray.My Labrador is Brilliant with other dogs he meets in the park.I don't have any problems with him.My staffie is a problem dog as she does not get on with any dog she meets in the park.She stays on her lead at all times and never comes off of it.This is how it is going to be for as long as she lives.I am not prepared to take the risk.I can appreciate your comment above but don't tar every person who might have a problem dog as the same as this despicable woman above.
[quote][p][bold]QPR4Me[/bold] wrote: This is less about the dog that did the killing and more about the insensitive witch that owned it. The vast majority of dogs are not a problem. The ones that are, invariably have owners such as this woman. Maybe it is time to jail these owners for a minimum 12 months stretch, then they might begin to appreciated the need to take responsibility for their dog's actions. So sorry to hear of Mrs Atkins' loss.[/p][/quote]Shocking story and the behaviour of the lady who owns the dog that attacked the Yorkshire Terrier is Disgusting.I hope someone knows who she is and does the right thing and report her.Problem dogs need to be kept in control at all times and on a lead.I have a staffie Mixed **** of 8 years old and another dog that is a Labrador mix that I adopted from Greece.He was a stray.My Labrador is Brilliant with other dogs he meets in the park.I don't have any problems with him.My staffie is a problem dog as she does not get on with any dog she meets in the park.She stays on her lead at all times and never comes off of it.This is how it is going to be for as long as she lives.I am not prepared to take the risk.I can appreciate your comment above but don't tar every person who might have a problem dog as the same as this despicable woman above. MissyM1972
  • Score: 0

12:26pm Fri 23 May 14

QPR4Me says...

MissyM1972

By your actions with your dog, you show that you are a responsible owner. You recognise that one of your dogs has a problem and you have taken steps to prevent your dog from being a risk to others.
My view of bad dogs and bad owners, is based upon the fact that their are too many people out their with problem dogs who DO NOT take action to control their animal, as you have done. In my book, they are the problem. Had this woman been as responsible as you, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
I grew up with Irish Wolfhounds, big, friendly but capable of killing another dog with one bite. Our's were always strictly controlled and were only let off the leash when we were sure that there were no other dogs in the vicinity.
If this woman knew that her dog had an issue with other animals, it actually makes her lack of action worse, exactly the sort of person who should never be allowed to own a dog again!
MissyM1972 By your actions with your dog, you show that you are a responsible owner. You recognise that one of your dogs has a problem and you have taken steps to prevent your dog from being a risk to others. My view of bad dogs and bad owners, is based upon the fact that their are too many people out their with problem dogs who DO NOT take action to control their animal, as you have done. In my book, they are the problem. Had this woman been as responsible as you, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I grew up with Irish Wolfhounds, big, friendly but capable of killing another dog with one bite. Our's were always strictly controlled and were only let off the leash when we were sure that there were no other dogs in the vicinity. If this woman knew that her dog had an issue with other animals, it actually makes her lack of action worse, exactly the sort of person who should never be allowed to own a dog again! QPR4Me
  • Score: 1

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