A TOY Poodle was charged under the Dangerous Dogs Act for being 'dangerously out of control in a public place', after ripping a man's trousers in a busy high street.
However, after a glowing report on the dog's character from an animal behaviourist, magistrates showed mercy and took a lenient course of action.
John Blanchard, 41, from Newport, Isle of Wight, was walking his six year-old chocolate toy poodle 'Levi' through a busy shopping precinct when Levi became frightened by the number of people and bit a man's trousers, tearing a hole in them. The man's leg was not bitten, nor did he sustain any injury.
Police were called and a scuffle ensued, which led to Mr Blanchard being arrested and charged with occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault. Police also charged him under Section 3 of the DDA for Levi's 'attack' on the passer-by, a charge upheld by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Mr Blanchard appointed a solicitor to act for him, and local animal behaviourist, Jan Jacobs, who has helped in several DDA cases examined Levi at the solicitor's request and prepared a detailed assessment of the dog's behaviour and temperament. She concluded that Levi was not an aggressive dog and posed no threat to the public, but had simply acted out of fear due so many people towering over him at close quarters.
The case was heard at Newport Magistrates Court last Friday (May 17th), where Ms Jacob's report was entered as evidence. The prosecution then downgraded their charge from the DDA to the less draconian 1871 Dogs Act, which should be used for minor dog-related incidents of this nature.
Blanchard pleaded guilty on this point. Magistrates then imposed
a control order on Levi, stipulating that he should be muzzled
and leashed when in public at all times.
Mr Blanchard also pleaded guilty to the charges of occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault, but sentencing was deferred for three weeks for pre-sentencing reports.
Mr Blanchard told OUR DOGS this week: "I'm so relieved that Levi has been released from the threat of possible destruction. The silly thing is, he usually wears a muzzle, but I'd forgotten to put it on him that day. I think he just became spooked by all the people about him, and panicked. But he never actually bit the passer-by, which makes the police's reaction to this incident out of all proportion.
"I admit that things became heated and that I struggled, so I will have to take whatever punishment they give me, although I have been told that it will most likely be probation.
"I am very grateful to Jan Jacobs for all her help with preparing the report on Levi - the magistrates were obviously impressed by her expert evidence."
Jan Jacobs commented: "It angers me beyond words, and that is the wrong word for I am too polite to utter anything else, that those 'in charge of the DDA are so ignorant of dogs and their behaviours, so they charge a tiny dog who weighs less than 7lb under the DDA for a minor offence, caused by the dog being afraid. The world has gone mad."