‘...DOGS ARE being seized and abandoned in equal measure in the wake of the panic about pit bull terriers sweeping the country.
In Merseyside, over 30 suspected illegal dogs have been seized in police raids aimed at smashing an alleged dog fighting ring, whilst a number of alleged pit bull dogs have been seized at addresses in Liversedge and Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire on Saturday. The dogs are being held by West Yorkshire police, who said DNA and other tests would be carried out to confirm the breeds.
More worryingly, there are reports of dozens of Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreeds being abandoned at rescue centres or worse, being handed to vets to be put to sleep because their owners are fearful that the dogs are ‘pit bulls’ or that they may be seized by police as pit bulls.
One vet in Wales reported that he had put down ten Staffie crosses by Friday last week. Peter Heathcote of Budget Vets in Abertilly, Gwent has said that he will not be putting down any more healthy dogs merely because of concerns as to what ‘type’ of dog they are and has set up a dedicated mobile helpline and offering people confidential and impartial advice on identifying their dog’s breed and caring for it properly.
Mr Heathcote told OUR DOGS: ‘2007 has started in the most awful way for dogs after the horrific attack on a little girl by a banned breed. Since that tragic day dozens of family pets that have never so much as snarled at anyone have been destroyed or abandoned. I cannot describe to you how awful it is to hold a healthy friendly dog as it wags its tail and is then injected with an overdose of anaesthetic for simply being a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross breed.’
Meanwhile in Bolton, Lancashire, the owner of a Staffie cross was horrified when staff at her local council dog pound refused to release the dog back to her after it had been handed in as a missing dog, saying that they believed it to be of the ‘pit bull type’ and would be notifying the police.
The owner, who asked to remain anonymous, told OUR DOGS: ‘My dog escaped from my garden when somebody left the gate open. She was picked up by a dog warden and taken to the local pound where, thankfully, I was able to locate her without too much trouble. I was overjoyed that she was safe and paid the set fee for her to be handed back to me. But when I went to the pound they refused to hand her back saying they believed she was a pit bull ‘type’ and would have to be seen by the police. They even had the cheek to offer me my money back if I would voluntarily leave her there!’
The owner sought help from OUR DOGS and was given contact details of an expert who regularly identifies dogs in DDA cases in the hope that it could be proven swiftly that her dog was not a pit bull ‘type’.