Banned pitbull-type dog may be put down as owner loses High Court bid

Banned pitbull-type dog may be put down as owner loses High Court bid

03/29/2021

Banned ‘pitbull-type’ dog may be put down despite ‘excellent temperament’ as ‘devoted’ owner loses High Court bid to save his life after failing to keep him muzzled and on a lead

  • Jenner Stronge was convicted of possessing a prohibited pitbull-type dog 
  • Was allowed to keep the dog on the condition it was kept on a lead and muzzled 
  • The dog, Bleu, was seized by the Metropolitan Police and held in private kennels 
  • He brought legal case against Met for refusing to move dog to Dogs Trust kennel
  • Mr Stronge lost the challenge at High Court and the dog could now be put down 

A banned dog may be put down after its owner lost a court battle to save its life, despite a judge saying the pet had an ‘excellent temperament’ and had never shown ‘aggressive or dangerous behaviour’. 

Jenner Stronge was convicted of possessing a prohibited pitbull-type dog called Bleu in January 2017, but was allowed to keep him with conditions including that he be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.

But, in February 2018, Mr Stronge was sentenced for failing to keep Bleu on a lead and muzzled, and an immediate destruction order was made, with Mr Stronge banned from keeping a dog for five years.

He failed to surrender Bleu because he was ‘desperate to save his dog from destruction’. 

Jenner Stronge (pictured) was convicted of possessing a prohibited pitbull-type dog called Bleu in January 2017, but was allowed to keep him with conditions including that he be kept on a lead and muzzled in public

The animal was later seized by the Metropolitan Police and held in private kennels pending the outcome of an appeal against his destruction.

Mr Stronge brought a legal challenge against the force for refusing to move Bleu to the kennels of the Dogs Trust, where he said a member of charity staff could take responsibility for Bleu and therefore could be his keeper.

But, in a judgment today, Judge Roger ter Haar QC dismissed the claim.

The judge said Bleu had an ‘excellent temperament and is not known ever to have shown aggressive or dangerous behaviour’.

Mr Stronge brought a legal challenge against the force for refusing to move Bleu to the kennels of the Dogs Trust, where he said a member of charity staff could take responsibility for Bleu and therefore could be his keeper. Pictured: Royal Courts of Justice 

The judge added: ‘The basis of the destruction order was that the claimant was not a fit and proper person to be in charge of Bleu; the police did not suggest that Bleu’s temperament or behaviour made him a danger to the public.’

Breeds banned to UK owners under the Dangerous Dogs Act 

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal for Britons to own and breed certain types of dog.

Those not permitted in households include; the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro. 

If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if it is not acting dangerously, or there has not been a complaint. 

The Act initially set out restrictions for dogs to be ‘out of control in a public place,’ but it was amended to include incidents on private property in 2014.  This includes include homes and gardens.  

If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the Index of Exempted Dogs (IED) and let you keep it. 

A dog is considered ‘out of control’ if it injures someone or makes them worried that it might. 

However, the law does provide a defence if a dog attacks a home intruder.  

Source: RSPCA  

The court heard that Mr Stronge needs to find a fit and proper person to look after Bleu to prevent him being put down, because he himself has been disqualified from owning dogs.

The Dogs Trust suggested that Bleu remain under the control of Scotland Yard but that his day-to-day care be delegated to a suitable person the dog could be released to after the appeal.

However, the court heard that the suggestion was rejected amid concerns about retaining responsibility and accountability for Bleu.

Representatives for the Metropolitan Police argued that it was disingenuous to say the force would still have control of the dog if he was held by the Dogs Trust.

In an email heard in court, Detective Sergeant Penny Keller wrote: ‘We will not move the dog, which is evidence of an offence, as it is our responsibility as a result.

‘We cannot be expected to trust a public kennel to not let the dog ‘disappear’ and then you will hold us liable on behalf of your client should anything happen to the dog.’

She added: ‘I am at a loss as to why people are so concerned about this one dog, when there are hundreds of dogs up and down the country who need homes.’

In his judgment, Judge ter Haar noted that Mr Stronge was ‘devoted’ to Bleu, adding: ‘Indeed, many of the present problems arise from his inappropriate conduct in giving effect to that devotion.’

Dismissing Mr Stronge’s claim, he concluded: ‘It seems overwhelmingly probable that, as a result, a fit dog of excellent temperament may die, the unfortunate victim of the fact that his owner has proved not to be a fit and proper person to have charge of him.

‘That sad consequence is a result of the draconian nature of the legislation: the draconian nature of that legislation is the result of considerable public concern as to the consequences of certain types of dog not being under effective control.

‘Where this difficult balance is to be struck between the interests of preserving such dogs, where they are of good temperament on the one hand and the dictates of the safety of the public on the other, is a matter of policy for the Government and Parliament.’

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