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Decision on Dino expected imminently

THE OWNERS of a dog sentenced to death under the Dangerous Dogs Act for accidentally biting the owner of another dog are still anxiously awaiting the outcome of a legal appeal to the House of Lords to save their dog's life writes Nick Mays.

The appeal was lodged just after Christmas by well-known solicitor Trevor Cooper who has been handling the case of 5 year-old GSD 'Dino' since his initial appeal against destruction.

Dino was sentenced to death by Northampton Magistrates early last year after his owner Carol Lamont pleaded guilty to a minor biting incident under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, arising from an incident when Dino got into a fight with another dog in January of that year and the other dog's owner was nipped in the ensuing fracas.

The decision to prosecute under the DDA was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service, although several Home Office circulars have issued guidelines to state that minor incidents of this nature should be prosecuted under the less draconian 1871 Dogs Act.

Through the Fury Defence Fund, Mrs Lamont engaged well-known DDA expert solicitor Trevor Cooper to act on their behalf. Mr Cooper lodged an appeal and challenged the destruction order at Northampton Crown Court in September2001, but the judge upheld the magistrates' decision, saying that Dino had attacked the other dog without any provocation and continued to pose a danger to public safety.

Following two High Court appeals, Dino's case was then referred to the House of Lords Judicial Office just after Christmas to see whether permission would be granted for an appeal to the House of Lords itself.

A decision was expected earlier this week, but was deferred from a possible Tuesday date due to all normal court and judicial service being suspended as a mark of respect for the Queen Mother's funeral.

Trevor Cooper told OUR DOGS: "I'm hopeful that the Judicial Committee will inform me this week of their decision. Basically, they have to decide whether they grant us permission to proceed to a full hearing in the Lords, or whether to instigate a hearing to determine whether such a hearing can go ahead! I know it sounds bizarre, but it's the law. Whatever happens, though, I'm hopeful that we can present a successful appeal and thus save Dino's life."