A TORQUAY man who threw his dog off the end of Babbacombe Pier has been warned he could face jail.
Paul John Sanders shocked witnesses by picking up his howling collie dog Shep and throwing it over the edge — 15ft above the sea.
As witnesses screamed in protest he told them: "This is how you get your dog to swim."
Fortunately, the dog, Shep, was not hurt but Sanders, 47, of Babbacombe Road, admitted failing to protect it from pain, suffering or injury.
Magistrates in Torquay condemned his actions which happened on a sunny afternoon in May.
Sanders, who had been swimming off Babbacombe Beach, was seen by witnesses drunkenly swaggering about in his Speedo trunks on the pier and shouting at his two dogs, a collie and a spaniel.
One witness, said she watched as he walked over, scooped Shep up and threw him over the edge without looking at the depth of the water.
She said: "He picked up the collie dog which appeared to be struggling against the top level of the wall and just threw the dog off into the sea.
"It happened so fast I just screamed. I thought he was just losing the plot. I thought the dog was dead but it suddenly surfaced. It was constantly howling, trying to get up the steps."
She said the tide was low and the dogs were clearly scared.
A second witness on the pier said an agitated and intoxicated Sanders swore at her about her own dogs a few moments before the incident.
He then put his dog on top of a 3ft ledge at the end of the pier.
"The dog frantically resisted and seemed to sense something was not quite right," she said.
She pleaded with Sanders: "Don't do that, don't be silly."
But he ignored her and did not appear to look over the edge.
The dog appeared distressed and disorientated when it surfaced and 'didn't seem for a brief moment to know where to swim'.
When she remonstrated with Sanders he just snapped: "They're my dogs I can do what I want. If you've got a problem report me."
The two women did report him and Sanders was arrested afterwards.
He denied being drunk and in court said he was deeply sorry for his actions. The court was shown letters of support from Sanders' GP and a local pet shop saying how much he cared for his animals.
Defending, Susanna Whale said a vet had seen both dogs and confirmed they were not injured.
"He is a man who loves his animals. "They are his life. This is one incident and he acted wrongly."
She said he feared his dogs would be taken away but promised that if he had them back nothing like this would happen again.
Magistrates asked for reports from the probation service.
Chairman of the bench John Kiddey said: "We consider this a very, very serious offence. We are not ruling out custody."
He said the offence was made worse by the fact Sanders was drunk and it had been in front of children and people 'who were clearly terrified'.
"When you pushed that dog over the edge you didn't know if there were rocks there or not."
Sanders was bailed to November 2.