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Rottweilers escape destruction order


IN JANUARY 2007 a story hit the headlines when a nine-year-old boy was attacked by one of his neighbour’s Rottweilers in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

Now, over two years later and after a long, drawn out court battle including several postponed court hearings, the case has finally been resolved, with the lives of two innocent Rottweilers being saved.

The events of the attack unfolded in early 2007 when Yvonne Webb popped to the shops leaving her 11-year-old-son playing outside with his friend and neighbour Jordan; the two boys had been given strict instructions not to go into the kitchen where the family’s three Rottweilers were enclosed.

Unfortunately, somehow, the three dogs - two bitches and one dog - were released from the kitchen and proceeded to chase Jordan. The male Rottweiler caught up with the schoolboy and bit him several times on the face, back, arms and legs.

The dogs allegedly then followed Jordan into his own house where his father had to prise open the jaws of the the male dog attacking his son. He then managed to drag all three dogs out of the house and close the door.

Jordan was rushed to hospital where he was treated for a dozen bite wounds.

Following the incident Oliver, the dog that attacked the boy, was destroyed, whilst the two female Rottweilers, Emma and Jinx, were confiscated and ordered to be destroyed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Furthermore a five-year ban on keeping dogs was imposed upon Mrs Webb by the courts as well as 120 hours’ community service which she duly fulfilled.

However, Mrs Webb chose to appeal against the destruction order since these two bitches, she argued, were not directly involved in the attack, and a long court battle ensued. At the first hearing on 28th November last year at the Court of Appeal in London Mrs Webb was represented by Mike Mullan, the Founder and Honorary member of the UKRCB, who provided detailed evidence of the temperament tests he carried out on the two remaining dogs, which suggested they were both of a sound and safe nature.

Extensive

The Crown Prosecution also ordered their own expert witness to assess the dogs’ behaviour and Sarah Heath BVSc DECVBM-CA MRCVS, a respected animal behavioural specialist, provided an extensive report which also suggested that the two female Rottweilers were reasonably safe and not dangerous to the public.

With these findings in mind, the Court of Appeal presented Mrs Webb with a compromise: if she could find suitable homes for both of the dogs then the destruction order would be withheld under certain conditions.

The case was then adjourned until a later date during which time Mrs Webb set about finding suitable homes for her two Rottweilers and by the time the next hearing came around on 4th March 2009 she had done just that, with one of the potential ‘new’ owners attending court alongside her.

Although Mrs Webb had fulfilled the court’s request the prosecuter, Mr Price, asked that the destruction order still stand. After a tiresome battle and a re-run of Ms Heath’s evidence Lord Justice Hooper finally concluded that the dogs could go to the new homes provided that a set of conditions were drawn up by Mr Mullan, Ms Heath and the defence barrister to which the new owners would adhere to at all times.

Conditions

The contingent destruction order pursuant to Section 4a (4) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 stipulated that ‘Emma and Jinx shall be destroyed unless their new owners comply with the following conditions...’ All together twenty conditions were put in place including:

• The dogs shall be kept on a lead and muzzled at all times in a public place and any lead attached to the dog must not be held by any person under 18 years of age.

• The new owners must inform the courts of any change of address.

• When non-family members are present at the home address of the new owners, the dogs should either be supervised at all times by a person of 18 years or over or placed in a secure room.

• The fencing and all exits in the rear garden of the home address shall be of a minimum height of 6ft.

• Where medical attention or boarding in a kennel is required it is pemissable for the dog to be left in a licenced kennel or at a veterinary surgeon’s premises or hospital. If the dog is left in any motorvehicle unsupervised it must be secured.

• Emma must be neutered before going to her new home. Jinx needn’t be because of poor health.

An emotional Mrs Webb and the new owners consented to all twenty stipulations of the contingent destruction order. The case then concluded with the five-year ban on keeping dogs imposed upon the defendant remaining in place.

Finally, the court thanked Sarah Heath for the way in which she gave her evidence and for her assistance to the court proceedings.

Mr Mullan later commented on the outcome of the hearing, telling OUR DOGS: ‘I am extremely pleased that both of these dogs will survive and go to happy homes with responsible owners.
‘I don’t think the Webbs did anything wrong; they’re a nice, hardworking family who know their responsibilities. No one on the prosecution side took into account that this was purely an accident.

‘I really hope that all readers of this paper bear in mind the facts of this case when they leave their dogs at home because it could happen to anyone of us.’



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