A STAFFORDSHIRE Bull Terrier bitch that was nursing a litter of puppies was seized by police and dog wardens following an alleged offence under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act – despite the fact that she was nursing a litter of six week-old puppies. Thankfully she was later released on ‘bail’ thanks to intervention by the Fury Defence Fund, writes Nick Mays.
The Stafford bitch named ‘Jasmine’ is owned by Charlie Taphouse and his family from Basingstoke and had previously been well-behaved in public. She had given birth to a litter of six puppies, which she had nursed well to the age of six weeks. On the day of the incident, June 18th 2004, Mr Taphouse took Jasmine for a brief walk in the local park which borders the back of his home. He did not take her far, as she was anxious to get back to her puppies. Suddenly, some young children who were playing nearby rolled down a grassy bank into Jasmine’s path. Jasmine was startled and nipped an 8 year-old girl on the ear, causing a tear in the ear. The child was taken to hospital and later discharged after minor treatment.
Mr Taphouse went to see her parents and enquire how she was, express his regret and concern, and responsibly left his name and address should they wish to contact him.
The next day, Mr Taphouse was startled when six police officers and two Dog Wardens arrived at his house and seized Jasmine as a ‘dangerous dog’, despite the family’s pleas that she was nursing a litter of puppies. Mr Taphouse was duly charged under Section 3 of the DDA and was summoned to appear at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on July 2nd – the first of many such appearances.
Mr Taphouse and his sister Tammy were desperate for help and contacted the Fury Defence Fund for advice and assistance in their legal struggle. Although Mr Taphouse had appointed a very competent local solicitor, FDF founder Juliette Glass referred him to well-known dog law solicitor Trevor Cooper for further advice, and also put him in touch with KC judge Mike Mullan as an exert witness to speak on behalf of Jasmine.
The case was heard in full at Winchester Crown Court on September 6th, where Mr Taphouse entered a guilty plea on the advice of his solicitor. Defence Barrister Charles Dabb outlined the incident and the judge listened carefully. It was agreed with the Crown Prosecution Service that Jasmine could be released, prior to sentencing, on the proviso that she was muzzled and on a lead in a public place. The court accepted that Jasmine was still in pain and anxious at the time of the incident due to the birth of her puppies and that her actions had been out of character. Jasmine was duly ‘bailed’ in Mr Taphouse’s care to appear in court in October for sentencing.
The case returned to court on October 12th for sentencing, where it was ordered that Jasmine should be muzzled in public. Mr Taphouse was also ordered to pay £100 in compensation to the child.
Jasmine’s story was taken up by local media, with the prevailing view being that she was a good dog and deserved her freedom.