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Successful appeals see DDA dogs free

A SUCCSSFUL appeal against destruction orders on a dog handed down under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act was heard at Liverpool Crown Court on January 24th 2008.

The appeal was held in front of a judge and two magistrates. Defence experts included the renowned animal behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford .and Guy Richardson of West Lancs Canine Centre.

The case was originally heard on October 10th 2007 when the owner and dog were represented in the Magistrates court by solicitor Lara Smith on behalf of anti-BSL group Deed Not Breed. Miss Smith explained to the bench that her client Natalie Smith (no relation) and her dog Elu were caught up in the DDA when a search warrant was executed at the home address of Miss Smith in relation to her ex partner. Questions were asked at the first hearing as to Elu’s reaction to the armed officers entering the house, though a subsequent Dog Legislation Officer who examined Elu stated in their report that she was a friendly non-aggressive dog when examined.

It was put forward by the defence at the first magistrates court hearing that Elu had reacted in an understandable way at the time of seizure when she barked at officers in attendance and that, despite being faced with up to ten armed officers she had not bitten anyone. In fact, the excellent temperament report by the Dog Legislation Officer was also put forward in her defence. However registration was denied as the Judge deemed that Elu had displayed behaviour that he felt to be dangerous and a destruction order was granted. Miss Smith immediately appealed the decision .

The facts of the case were presented again at the appeal by Lara Smith, who urged the bench to be aware of Elu’s good character and to reconsider the original sentence.

After the case was presented, the bench ruled that Elu be allowed to be placed on the register of exempted dogs, subject to Miss Smith complying with the restrictions placed upon exempted dogs, coupled with extra undertakings that Miss Smiths ex partner never be allowed control of Elu, and that Both Miss Smith and her dog attend a minimum of two sessions within the first month of Elu’s return with trainer and behaviourist Guy Richardson.

Additionally, if it is Mr Richardson’s opinion that during these sessions Elu's temperament has deteriorated from when he first examined, her must forward a report back to the court within six weeks with his findings.

Miss Smith was very emotional throughout the hearing and is delighted that her beloved pet will be home soon. Deed Not Breed told OUR DOGS that it appears from a DVD of her assessment produced for the court that Elu has considerably lost condition since being seized so Miss Smith obviously hopes she can be returned as quickly as possible, and will hopefully be restored to good health.