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The pit bull amnesty that never was

THE KENNEL Club this week slammed a proposed amnesty for pit-bull type dogs in Liverpool, claiming it will result in death for well loved family pets and untold distress to dog owners. It criticised the amnesties currently operating in Northern Ireland as ‘(a) poorly thought out and ineffective response to the situation’.

Merseyside’s Chief Constable Bernard Hogan Howe had publicly said that he was seeking Home Office permission to organise an amnesty similar to that in operation in Ballymena, Northern Ireland whereby owners of dangerous dogs or those of the pit bull ‘type’ which are illegal under the Dangerous Dogs Act could hand their dogs in for destruction without fear of prosecution.

The move follows the media furore over dangerous dogs in the wake of the death of five year-old Ellie Lawrenson who was savaged to death by her Uncle Kiel Simpson’s pit bull ‘type’ dog at his house in Eccleston in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

The dog was cornered by police officers and shot dead by a marksman. It later emerged that the dog had twice been cited by the local authority for biting other dogs. Tests have been conducted on the animal’s body, although no results have yet been announced, other than that the dog was of the pit bull ‘type’.

A number of police raids have since taken places on addresses in Liverpool and West Yorkshire where pit bulls and dog fighting equipment have been seized.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Kennel Club proposes an alternative to the amnesties, and that is to re-open the Index of Exempted Dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

By re-opening the Index, not just for seven days but for a more realistic minimum period of three months, all owners of pit bull type dogs would be able to apply to a court - without fear of prosecution - for their dog to be registered on the basis that it would not constitute a danger to public safety.

The KC’s statement had been designed to pre-empt a planned announcement on the operation of the amnesty by Merseyside Police scheduled for this Wednesday (January 24th).

However, OUR DOGS was told exclusively by Merseyside Police Press Officer Claire Bebb that no such amnesty had been planned, nor any such announced scheduled for this week.

‘We never intended to announce an amnesty this week’, said Ms Bebb.

‘When we do announce such a measure it is not going to be an ‘amnesty’ – it is to be a ‘Dog Hand-In’, the full details of which will be announced in around two week’s time.’

She was unable to give any further details of the ‘hand-in’ including its possible duration and plans for what would happen to any dogs handed in during the scheme.

OUR DOGS will continue to monitor and report on Merseyside’s plans as soon as further information in announced.