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26/11/01
DDA charges dropped against GSD

A TEENAGER'S dog was reprieved from possible death under the Dangerous Dogs Act after the Crown Prosecution Service were forced to drop all charges due to lack of evidence.

Jason Fernandez, 17 was walking his German Shepherd, Rover, in a park close to his home in Wembley, Middlesex, one day in February of this year. Rover was not very tolerant of other dogs, so Jason had him on a lead as was his usual practice. They passed a dog that growled at Rover, but did not stop until they were some distance from the dog. Jason then let Rover off the lead so that he could run free. Unfortunately, Rover ran back to the dog that had growled at him and a fight ensued.

The other dog was being walked by a Polish woman who was not the dog's owner. She tried to separate both dogs and was bitten on one of her fingers. Jason immediately called the police and ambulance services on his mobile phone and took Rover home.

A couple of weeks later, police officers called and said that Rover must be handed over to them, specifying a day.

Both Jason and his mother Rose alleged that the police officer said that Jason would go to prison if he didn't comply. Rover was eventually handed over at the local police station and Jason was charged under Section 3 of the DDA, despite Home Office guidelines that state that minor incidents should e dealt with under the 1871 Dogs Act.

Mrs Fernandez engaged a local solicitor for her son and approached anti-DDA campaigner Janet Payne for help. Janet is a member of the Fury Defence Fund which helps dog owners in similar situations and thus was able to refer Jason to Fury Defence Fund founder Juliette Glass for help and assistance, whilst another animal rights campaigner, Peter Wise, made several telephone calls to the police on behalf of the family.

When Mr Wise telephoned the police and asked when the family could see their dog, he was told that it would cost 300.

Mrs Fernandez herself managed to trace an eyewitness who says they heard the complainant, the Polish woman say: "I don't know which dog did it."

Subsequently, the woman returned to Poland and wished to drop the matter. This fact was conveyed to the police by her daughter.

On Wednesday, October 24th, the CPS advised Jason's solicitor that all charges against Rover had been dropped. Two days later, having spent eight months in custody, Rover was returned to Jamie in good health, much to the delight of the Fernandez family.