Police have made another appalling canine welfare blunder as it has been revealed that the Devon and Cornwall section ordered a bull breed bitch detained under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to be left in a 3ft x 9ft kennel for two years without exercise. Kennel assistants were told not to enter the kennel of or handle any dogs held under the Act in blatant contradiction of DEFRA’s welfare guidelines which state “The welfare of any dog seized is also a factor the police need to consider and they should note their duty to ensure the welfare of animals under their control (s9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006)”.
The dog’s owner has made 11 court appearances in an attempt to reprieve his dog but a court has now ordered that she be destroyed. Her owner stated that she had not shown any signs of aggression before being seized because of her breed. Video evidence of her behaviour was shown in court but this was of behaviour exhibited following her long confinement. She was kept in private facilities and no explanation was given as to why she could not have had free access to a secure run without the need for staff to place themselves in danger.
The BBC obtained data via a Freedom of Information request revealing that over a five year period, police seized 7,000 dogs and spent £650 on average per dog. Each police authority is recommended to employ a Dog Legislation Officer. The Metropolitan Police have 25 DLOs, mostly employed as dog handers rather than to handle dangerous dogs.
Their spending on seized dogs has risen from £405,000 in 2006 to £2.72M in 2011.
We must review the knee-jerk legislation such as that which has resulted in the Dangerous Dogs Act and make it a statutory obligation for local authorities to emply a 24 hour, 7 day a week dog warden service. We should continue to press for the compulsory education of all dog owners and take action against anyone who breaches animal welfare legislation, including the police.
Stop Press: There has been an update to the case of Stella the “pit bull”. Her owner has launched a late appeal against the destruction order and she will remain in kennels until the outcome of the appeal is known. A charity in Connecticut, USA has offered to pay all costs of relocation if she cannot be returned to her owner.
There is a now ray of hope for this dog after two years of suffering but how many more will have to suffer similar and worse fates until we control breeding, insist on compulsory education for dog owners and punish the deed not the breed.