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Akitas pardoned

THREE AKITAS have been spared death following a year-long legal battle by their owner.

The dogs, belonging to 53-year-old Derek Hitchen from Lancashire, were ordered to be destroyed after mauling three smaller dogs, however judge William Morris overturned the order following an appeal by Mr Hitchen after hearing that the Akita Rescue Association would take care of the animals until a home could be found for them.

Mr Hitchen told Our Dogs: “Obviously I'm very pleased that the dogs aren't going to be put down, and I just want to put this behind me."

Magistrates in Wigan ordered the pets should be destroyed in February after they attacked and killed three dogs in a park in Westhoughton between June 5 and July 23 last year. Mr Hitchen launched a legal bid to overturn the death sentence, which was resolved at Bolton Crown Court.

Judge Morris said: "There is reason to believe that these dogs can now be rehomed. This court has expressed great concern about the costs incurred by the kennel owners while caring for these dogs. Unfortunately, I have no power to award costs because of the outcome of this case, and it is now a legal matter between the kennel owner, the police and Mr Hitchen."

John Lythgoe, of Lythgoe's Kennels, Cumbermere Lane, Tyldesley, said: "The dogs have been here since last July, and we've had no payment or any indication of who will pay us. Nobody will take responsibility for the dogs being here."

Chris McLean of the well known Melodor Akitas and Our Dogs breed correspondent said: “I am extremely concerned as to the rehoming of these dogs and would think that they could only be placed with very experienced handlers.

I would not be comfortable with these dogs going to ordinary pet people after such an incident. They would need to be rehomed singly and to people with no other pets or children. I would also want them muzzled as a safeguard when in public places to prevent any more incidents from happening.

“I must say however that the majority of responsible Akita breeders have been breeding for better temperament and in the right hands these are wonderful dogs but not for the faint hearted.”