Former Scotland international Kevin Gallacher has been cleared of not being in control of his dog when it bit a seven-year-old girl on the head.
Th ex-Blackburn Rovers winger was said to have "taken his eye off the ball" after the child asked to stroke his pet golden retriever, Baxter, as he chatted to a friend in a pub beer garden.
The youngster needed hospital treatment for lacerations to her face and scalp after she said she was bitten "three, four times", Blackburn Magistrates' Court heard.
Gallacher, 48, of Ribchester Road, Clayton le Dale, denied owning a dog said to be dangerously out of control at The Bonny Inn in Clayton le Dale, Blackburn, on September 28 last year.
He argued that he believed the child had moved away from the dog which was on a lead tied to a picnic bench where he was sitting and that he was not responsible for her when she returned and crawled under the bench while his back was turned.
Gallacher also did not accept that eight-year-old Baxter, who he had owned since a puppy, had bitten the child, and that her injuries may have been caused by her banging her head on the table.
District Judge James Clarke said he was satisfied that the only plausible explanation for the girl's injuries was that they came from the dog as a result of "an instinctive reaction to the close proximity".
But he said it was a "strong argument" from the defence that the location of the dog under Gallacher's seat and that it was tied to the bench was "adequate and sufficient evidence that it was being kept under control".
He said: "The approach of a child to a dog may not have been beyond the wit of man to anticipate, but the specific facts of this case involve the child climbing beneath the owner and a seat into an intimate and confined space with the dog.
"No criticism attaches to (the girl) but that is determined action on her part.
"Here I am satisfied that there was failure to check she had gone away from the table.That was an omission ... however I am not satisfied so that I am sure that this was anything more than a minimal omission for Mr Gallacher to check to confirm what was in the circumstances an honest and reasonable belief that the dog was now in a place where there would be no more contact with the child.
"Once (the girl's) movement became known, Mr Gallacher reacted as he should. He moved the dog out of the way and rendered what limited assitance was needed."
He concluded: "On the specific facts of the case, the location and position of the dog and the efforts taken by (the girl) to get under the bench, I am not satisfied so that I am sure that this should reasonably have been anticipated.
"I do not find the matter proved."