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Dogue cross goes free in DDA case

AN EAST Midlands dog owner was celebrating last week after he emerged victorious in a year-long battle to secure the release of his Dogue de Bordeaux cross, Zeke, who was seized as an unregistered, illegal Pit Bull ‘type’ under the Dangerous Dogs Act by a local authority dog warden.
Jason Singh of Greenacre, Edwalton was walking Zeke – then still a puppy - one day in June 2007 when a Rushcliffe Borough Council dog warden saw Zeke and declared him to be a Pit Bull Terrier. Zeke was later seized by the local authority and held in secret kennels whilst the case against Mr Singh was prepared.

ZekeMr Singh told reporters outside Nottingham Magistrates Court last Friday: ‘It's been a nightmare. He was a good dog. We've never had any problems with him and for him to be taken like that for so long and not to be able to see him, it's really horrible.’

Mr Singh was supported by the anti-DDA group the Fury Defence Fund, which supports dog owners in legal cases.

Two expert witnesses appeared for the defence, namely animal behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford and Bull terrier judge John Branch, both of who have defended many dogs caught up under the insidious DDA.

Both Dr Mugford and Mr Branch had examined Zeke and found him to be non-aggressive, obedient and, crucially, a crossbreed.

The council employed Dr Barry Peachey, who has appeared on both sides in DDA cases. Dr Peachey said that in his opinion, having examined Zeke, that he was a ‘red-nosed’ Pit Bull terrier, a type commonly found in the East Midlands. However, Dr Peachey’s evidence was rubbished comprehensively by John Branch, who, in typical pithy and forthright style told the court Zeke was a French mastiff cross and the only red-nosed variety he knew of ‘was Rudolph’.

Having considered the evidence, Judge Morris Cooper ruled in the defence’s favour and order Rushcliffe Borough Council to pay expenses and to return Zeke as soon as possible, as the dog had been held in custody for 13 months. ‘Zeke is clearly a delightful, friendly dog and shows no sign of aggression at all,’ Judge Cooper said. .

A Rushcliffe Borough Council statement said it was disappointed at the decision, adding it had not argued that the dog was dangerous but that it was a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Mr Singh paid tribute to the Fury Defence Fund, his legal team and expert witnesses, adding: ‘It has been over a year - and it's been absolute hell but it's been worth it and I've had a lot of people supporting me.’