The owner of a dog that mauled a puppy to death on Tuesday is “devastated” for its owner and her family.

Esther Shortt was walking her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ‘Ruby’ when a Staffordshire bull terrier bit into it, inflicting fatal injuries.

It has since emerged that the dog killed another puppy in similar circumstances at the same park in November.

The Staffie’s owner, a man who only gave his name as Dale, told the Times Series that the latest attack has left him feeling physically sick.

He said: “I’m absolutely devastated. It makes me sick just talking about it. He’s not a vicious dog – I don’t know what to do with him. If he constantly went after other dogs then fine, but he doesn’t.

“He just picked it up in his mouth, he didn’t really attack it. He chases squirrels and rats and I think he must have thought she was a squirrel.”

Mrs Shortt regularly walked Ruby and her other dog in the park and would wait in the car until Dale had passed with his larger mutt.

He said: “I see her every morning – I’m totally gutted for her and her family, I really am.

“We’ve had him for four years and he’s like a family member. I don’t know what to do, my girlfriend is devastated.

“It wasn’t like he ripped it to pieces, he picked it up in its mouth but he’s obviously so strong – it wasn’t a vicious attack.”

Police are powerless to prosecute the owners of dogs that attack other animals but new laws are likely to be introduced to criminalise the incidents.

Dale is adamant he will be keeping his own dog on a lead in future, and admitted he has not let him out of the house since the latest attack.

He said: “If he’s lucky enough to get out of the house he will certainly be muzzled and on a leash. It has made me physically ill and it’s killing my girlfriend.

“It was unfortunate but it will never happen again. There’s a stereotype with these dogs – I get looks all the time.

“I take full responsibility as he’s my dig but he really isn’t a vicious animal.”