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Expert’s evidence saves Bullmastiff’s life

A DOG psychologist who helped save one of Princess Anne's dogs from being destroyed has given some equally valuable help to a dog which faced a possible death sentence under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

Expert Dr Roger Mugford was called in a bid to save Humphrey the Bullmastiff, which attacked two people, from being put down.

Appearing at Norwich Crown Court two weeks ago, wheelchair-bound Mr Walker, 39, admitted his dog had been out of control on September 2 last year when it injured Sharon Hunt. Another count of the dog injuring a neighbour was left on the file. Mr Walker was subsequently charged under Section 3 of the DDA for allowing his pet to be "dangerously out of control in a public place"

Speaking on Humphrey's behalf, Dr Mugford told the court the hound was a "delightful clown" and offered to train him, thus saving him from the death penalty.

Judge Paul Downes ruled that the dog would not be destroyed unless he harmed someone else and provided Dr Mugford trained him and socialised him so he could be re-homed.

Mr Walker was conditionally discharged for 12 months and ordered to pay £200 compensation to the woman, Sharon Hunt, and £500 costs.

But the father-of-two claimed that, following two serious accidents, he did not have the mental capacity to keep up with the court proceedings and that before he knew it Humphrey had been taken away from him for good.

"When I was in court everything was decided over my head," he said. "Now I'm going to instruct my solicitor to help me get Humphrey back."

Earlier this year Mr Walker spent nearly £4,000 on strong new fencing around his garden in the hope of getting the dog returned to him.

"That dog means so much to me and I miss him terribly," he said. "I live on my own and he was my company and my friend. I used to talk to him and sing to him too."

The case has echoes of the 2002 case against Princess Anne, who was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 compensation, after her Bull Terrier Dotty attacked two children. Dr Mugford appeared at court on that occasion too and said he did not think Dotty should be destroyed but needed further training.

In Humphrey's case Dr Mugford was pivotal in saving the dog from death, telling the court he was not dangerous but "untrained".