THE ‘DANGEROUS Dog Amnesty’ on Merseyside ended last week with a total of 86 dogs seized as being of the pit bull ‘type’. 600 calls had been made to Merseyside Police during the week-long ‘illegal dog’ hand in.
A large number of calls have been from owners of illegal dogs who wanted to take the opportunity to stay within the law. Nine owners have opted to take their case to the court under Section One of the dangerous Dogs Act which will decide whether the dogs will be placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs.
Any remaining seized dogs that are deemed to be of the pit bull ‘type’ will be destroyed.
Merseyside police said that many more calls been received from people who are unsure about the type of dog they have and dog identification officers have, so far, been able to reassure 132 owners that their animal does not fall under the legislation. Police officers are continuing to visit homes over the next few days to follow up on these calls.
Assistant Chief Constable Helen King said: ‘I would like to thank all those
dog owners who have taken the opportunity to come forward during the hand
in period and stay within the law. We understand that it has been a very difficult decision for many people to part with their animals. We are grateful to all of you for putting the safety of your children and the people of Merseyside ahead of the affection for your dog.
‘Our dog handlers and dog identification officers have spent a lot of time with owners and approached each visit with great sensitivity. We appreciate that this has not been an easy task for them and we are proud of them for their hard work and professionalism.’
Anyone who now calls police because they own a dog banned by the Dangerous Dogs Legislation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Police say that the ‘owners must understand they may face a large fine or imprisonment for owning an illegal dog’. However, the focus now for Merseyside Police is to target those people who are involved in dogfighting or breeding of illegal dogs as well as those who are using these dogs as part of their criminal lifestyle.
ACC Helen King added: ‘The hand in is part of a long running strategy to deal with the issue of dangerous dogs. I would reassure our communities that we will continue to target those people who use their dogs to intimidate or threaten people and put them before the courts. We will also pursue prosecutions against unscrupulous people who are involved in breeding illegal dogs or in the barbaric activity of dogfighting.’
A number of calls were taken during the hand in period from people who had information on where illegal dogs are being kept or bred.
As of 5pm on Tuesday, 13 February, the last day of the hand in, the figures for the hand in were as follows:
603 calls received
86 dogs seized of which, 9 dogs are being held pending court appearances
Officers have visited a further 132 addresses following calls, where the dogs were not judged to be of a prohibited breed.