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More dogs in the dock

Mel Page of Deed Not Breed, pictured at this year's Crufts

MORE DOGS seized by police in the so-called ‘Dangerous Dog Amnesty’ in Merseyside were due to be on trial under the Dangerous Dogs Act at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Wednesday of this week.

The dogs’ owners have all been charged with their dogs being of the pit bull ‘type’, contrary to Section 1 of the 1991 DDA but, as before, the prosecutions have been brought under Section 4(b) of the Act, which disqualifies the owners from seeking legal aid to defend their cases.

At the time of going to press, the exact number of dogs due to be on trial was unclear, although it is believed that the number could be anywhere between 6 and 12. This will be the third hearing since the end of the Amnesty. At the previous two hearings in February and April, the dogs were found ‘guilty’ of being ‘of the type’, but the judges overseeing each case recognised that they family pets and ruled that they should be placed on the Index of Exempted Breeds and released once they had been microchipped, tattooed and neutered where necessary.

Once again, the dogs will be defended by well-known canine solicitor Trevor Cooper and the defence costs will be met by the Kennel Club, who also paid the defence costs in the previous cases.

Mel Page, Chair of the anti-DDA group Deed Not Breed told OUR DOGS that, on this occasion, Merseyside police were opposing the release of at least two of the dogs on behavioural grounds, claiming them to be of ‘unsound temperament’ whilst in kennels, although DNB asserts that this has been largely on account of the dogs being distressed at their confinement.

‘Deed Not Breed’ has arranged for an independent behaviourist to assess one of the dogs earlier this week,’ said Ms Page. ‘Her findings will be brought forward in defence evidence. Once again, Deed Not Breed will be helping all those owners that need our help in court on the day and getting them to give their statements to Trevor Cooper, who will defend them’.

‘We were successful on the last two occasions by securing the release of most of the dogs, once they had been placed in the Index of Exempted Breeds on the judge’s orders, and we are again hoping for success this time.

‘The cases are a total waste of public money and frankly, we are surprised that the police are pursuing the cases, given that they have not ‘won’ in any sense previously. None of the dogs on trial that we were defending have been fighting dogs, none of them are dangerous; the so-called ‘amnesty’ did not work and as a PR exercise, was a dismal failure.’