A BULL TERRIER named Boye was spared harsh penalties by sympathetic magistrates after his owner was charged under the 1871 Dogs Act after a minor incident involving another dog.
Four year-old Boye is owned by Mrs Lillian Craze, 72, from Crawley, West Sussex. Boye was her late husbands dog and is a well adjusted, "cheeky" character who has never caused any problems to other dogs or human beings.
However, on September 26th 2002, Mrs Craze was walking Boye on her local common when they met Helen Morphew out walking a Cocker Spaniel puppy. The puppy was running along off the lead, whilst Boye was on the lead. Mrs Craze says that the Ms Morphew even commented on what a nice dog Boye was, before they all walked off in different directions.
Mrs Craze walked a short distance then let Boye off the lead for a run. She turned round and saw the same woman and her puppy again off the lead walking towards her. Boye ran to greet them, but for some unexplained reason, the woman picked the puppy up and started panicking when Boye jumped up to say hello.
Mrs Craze immediately called Boye to order, put him on the lead and took him home.
Two days later, when she was walking Boye again on the Common, she was confronted by Helen Morphew who claimed she had been scratched and needed a tetanus injection. She demanded Mrs Crazes address which she readily gave.
A few days later, a grossly exaggerated account of Ms Morphew being "attacked" by Boye appeared in the local newspaper. Mrs Craze contacted the local newspaper to complain and redress the facts of the story.
Shortly afterwards, she was contacted by Sussex police who asked her to call in at the local police station, which she duly did. A Duty Solicitor told Mrs Craze he would deal with the matter. The police later telephoned her to say that the matter was being dropped, so she was very surprised when a summons arrived charging her for the incident under the 1871 Dogs Act. Ms Morphew had claimed that Boye had attacked her and demanded action.
Craze contacted the Fury Defence Fund and, on their advice dropped
the Duty Solicitor and engaged well-known dog solicitor Trevor
Cooper. Mr Cooper in turn instructed Animal Behaviourist Dr
Roger Mugford to examine and assess Boye.
Dr Mugford called to see Mrs Craze and found Boye to be a delightful dog, very friendly with a penchant for lifting his head and singing. A video recording of his examination of Boye, showing his good temperament and including the singing was made for evidence.
The case was heard at Crawley Magistrates Court on March 31st 2003, before a bench of three Magistrates. The Prosecution indicated their willingness to do a deal to save a lengthy trial and to spare Mrs Craze, a lady of 72, the ordeal of having to stand in the witness box.
The Prosecution and Mr Cooper for the Defence made brief submissions and Dr Mugfords report and video were entered as evidence.
The Bench retired for just five minutes and then ASKED Mrs Craze if she was willing to keep Boye on a lead in public. She agreed, saying "No problem." There were no other stipulations, no fines or orders and Mrs Craze was simply asked to pay £75 costs.
Mrs Craze said afterwards that she and Boye felt vindicated, as Boye was not a dangerous dog. She paid tribute to the FDF, Mr Cooper and Dr Mugford, expressing her gratitude for their help and pledged to stay in touch with the FDF.
Juliette Glass of the Fury Defence Fund commented: "How nice it is to see magistrates who could quickly assess that Boye was no threat to the public and realise that this case should not have been brought. A rare victory for commonsense."