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Dangerous dog? What is likely to happen?

(22 Posts)
LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 10:19:30

Sorry, this is likely to be long, and a bit confused. The person I got the story from is reliable, but a bit scatterbrained.

R is a Rescue Dog. She is a mutt/cross, looks pure SBT but is the size of a Lab, maybe bigger. She is lovely, soft as hell, was quite timid originally but now is a bundle of fun. She is approx 6 yrs old. She was dumped in the garden of owner when she was less than a year old (we think) and he took her on (and spoiled her rotten). She has one BIG issue - she is very, very dog aggressive. Owner allows for this; she only gets walked early morn and late night. The garden is fully fenced. Owner keeps R away from other dogs wherever possible.

2 weeks ago R escaped from the garden. Unfortunately there was someone else walking their dog up the lane. R attacked the other dog. R Owner heard the commotion and ran out, stopped the dogs fighting, took other owner and dog straight to vets, paid for all the treatment etc. Was very very apologetic, was pretty distraught himself, told other owner he would do whatever he wanted. Thought it was all over.

A week later Owner was in his house at MIDNIGHT when he was woken by a loudhailer "MR XXXX SECURE YOUR DOGS"". he answered the door and was confronted by 3 police cars, 1 dog van, man with loudhailer wearing helmet and gloves etc. Policeman was very 'shouty' "Secure your Dogs". Owner pointed to R who was lying on his back wriggling and said - "Thats my only dog". Dog Handler bloke came over with his long stick/wire coller thingy to grab R, but walked away when he saw R being tummy rubbed by a WPC.

Owner was told to come to Police station - he refused (it was after midnight). Policeman said "Well I'll charge you here then", Owner agreed, was charged, is now waiting on CPS. I dont know what the charge was. Owner asked who had reported this, was told "We are responding to a 999 call"

Questions:
Any idea what Owner is likely to have been charged with (he's not answering my calls at the mo)?
Any idea of what might happen?
Owner is worried that R will be ordered to be PTS.
Is she a 'dangerous dog'? (POlicemans words were "She looks like a Pit Bull to me" - Owner just said "Don't be fucking ridiculous" and policeman didnt say anything else.
Should owner contact other dog owner and see what the problem is? - he really did think it was all over.
If the police were responding to a 999 call why the hell did it take them a week - and why midnight?
I know Owner and wife (and kids) are distraught, I dont know if I can do anything to help, maybe find some legislation etc? This has already cost them £400 (vets bills for other dog) - they'll pay what they have to, but if I can help get stuff together before they need a solicitor I want to.

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 10:46:39

Oh, something I forgot. Owner has been told R must wear a muzzle from now on - but they've tried that before and they have a 'mare getting one on / keeping it on. Any tips?

Vallhala Tue 04-Oct-11 11:05:00

Poor bloody man!

Please can I address 2 things first - this is NOT a rescue dog but a dog which was found and which the owner took in. I know what you mean and I know it sounds as if I'm being pedantic but I also know that there are folk on MN who will read "rescue dog... dangerous.. SBT... Pit Bull" in your OP and start the rumour mill yet again that all rescue dogs are dangerous. smile

Right... I take it that owner is no longer in the police station?

For a start you need to know the charges but if they're dog related then the owner should contact Trevor Cooper at Doglaw.

And if I were that owner and the charges were dog related I wouldd get my dog out of the house and into safe hands NOW. If questioned I would say that my child left the gate open and he got out.

I don't advocate that others should do as I would but as I always say, I don't do legal I do moral - and in the light of the Lennox judgment I my conscience is clear on that. The policeman in your OP is a total wanker with his "looks like a Pit Bull to me" comment but sadly that is all it takes for a dog to end up dead - one unducated, inexperienced cop's opinion.

Really need to know what the charges are before much else can be said.

3cutedarlings Tue 04-Oct-11 11:25:49

While i agree almost totally with the advice that Val has given, i would actually question the owners competence (just a tiny bit!!) but if this dog is as dog aggressive as you say, then your friend needs to really make more effort to keep it muzzled when ever it is out, be it in the garden or out for a walk! it appears he's no been doing this? The attack must have been a bad one as 400 pound is some vet bill!

The best way i believe for getting a dog to wear a muzzle is get the dog to associate it with good things, so to start with leave it just out and about and when ever the dog goes near it give him a treat, hopefully this should help so desensitise the dog towards the muzzle.

Are you sure that the police have charged him with something unrelated to the dog? could the police have turned up mob handed as they knew he had a dog with a history of being aggressive? (all be it with dogs).

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 11:29:36

Val, thanks, yes I understand what you are saying about the Rescue Dog thing - All I really meant was that R was not bought from a breeder etc. Poor bloody dog was dumped, and Owner doesnt know any of her background - we do wonder, going on how dog agressive she is, if she was originally bred for fighting. Its such a bloody shame - she really is a fantastic dog as long as no other dogs are around. Cant be sure what her mix is, vet thinks poss Weimeraner or Lab. She's not been DNA'd.

Sorry, no, owner not at police station. Attack was 2 weeks ago (sun). Police raid was one week ago (mon). I was told about this yesterday.

Will pass on the DogLaw link. Owner loves his dog, but isnt really a 'doggy person' IYKWIM, so he wouldnt know about any of this.

I agree about getting R away. Sadly all my doggy friends have dogs of their own, so R couldnt come to any of us - if she could I would do it in a heartbeat.

I've sent owner a text and FB post - he works funny hours so getting hold of him is always a problem. Wish the person who told me could remember what the charge was - she is a bit scatty. May try to get hold of Owner Wife, she is at home with R all day.

Thanks again for the link.

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 11:45:02

3cute,

No dog has never been muzzled. They have tried, but just couldn't manage it - so instead make sure they walk dog where and when other dogs are not likely to be around. Owner is V Strong (built like a brick shithouse) and whenever he has been out with R and other dogs have appeared he has been able to hold onto her and stop her pulling etc - she is well trained and will stop if he says NO! Admittedly I do not know how hard they have tried with the muzzle - just that they tried but couldn't make it work. I will give them your suggestions.

Garden is fully fenced, but a bloody badger has dug his sett under the fence, which is how R got out. Owner was not aware until then (hole is behind shed - owner has had badger problems before)

Police seemed to have wrong info - ie shouting for Owner to secure his dog*s*......but I really dont get why they turned out at midnight - and a whole week after the incident!

I wasn't sure about the injuries - I must admit I assumed that £400 wasn't that much (MuttDogs spaying cost me £225 plus extras) so thought the injuries couldn't have been that bad - I could be very wrong though.

3cutedarlings Tue 04-Oct-11 12:22:19

Well in thinks its alots, a spaying op is after all a big OP tbh.

A friend of mines dog recently had a fight with another dog with left a couple of puncture wounds, the bill for the vet to shave and clean up, anitB jab and a further weeks course of Antibiotics was £76 so this dog must have done quite a bit of damage sad.

Dog aggressive dogs can be trained to trust and get on with other dogs and there are trainers out there (tho sadly not enough) that do know what the are doing, but for some this could well take years. But its doable if the owner is committed enough.

3cutedarlings Tue 04-Oct-11 12:24:59

Jesus ignore my poor spelling and bad grammar!! id like to say i had a really good excuse for it, but im afraid to say i am just poorly educated blush.

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 12:49:52

Thank you 3cute, does sound bad then (I didnt see the dog, so couldnt tell you what it was).

Valhalla - I have now been able to speak to Owner. He was arrested for "Failing to Control a Dangerous Dog". He has already been to his solicitor who is saying that best case scenario is dog gets an ASBO type thing. Solicitor says he will fight against R being branded a dangerous dog sad

Something extra that I didnt know is that the road this happened on is a private road, so technically the other owner was trespassing. I know it doesnt take away what R did to the poor dog, but the owner really shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Owner says that other owner told him before the police raid that the dog was recovering fine. He hasnt spoken to him since, and doesnt know that it was him that called 999.

I have passed on the Dogslaw link and the muzzling tips - many thanks

notmeagain Tue 04-Oct-11 13:27:21

As a professional dealing in this field daily I am amazed by this.

Failing to control a dangerous dog is generally only when the dog has caused damage or harm to a person

"Section 3(1) provides for the owner or the person in charge of a dog (at the time of the
offence) to be guilty of an offence if they allow a dog of any breed to be ‘dangerously out of control 10 in a public place
11 ’. This offence is aggravated if the dog injures a person whilst
out of control.

There must be more to this and the owner needs to carefully find out what the other issues are:

Was a person harmed?
Are the police claiming the dog is a dangerous breed?

He must be aware of the facts to know how to proceed. He will obviously have to show how he can prevent the dog escaping again and show that his methods are foolproof.

I strongly disagree with Vals advice to lie about the whereabouts of the dog expecially if he has a court case pending shock However do agree that the dog needs to be in a secure safe place that may not be the owners accommodation. - where that may be will be difficult to find. Lennox is being tried under a different legal system to England and although I would be concerned about the police seizing the dog under the dangerous dogs act DNA testing has been used in many cases in the UK and all of the cases have been thrown out of court. So if the dog is not a dog listed on the dangerous dogs register there is no need to panic and commit perjury

Scuttlebutter Tue 04-Oct-11 13:30:24

I spent the day last week at one of Trevor's excellent Dog Law Professional Seminars, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend one of his shorter seminars for owners for ALL dog owners - this is the sort of info that can save a dog's life, and avoid a lot of legal heartache. Firstly, as we don't know all the facts (including some pretty crucial ones) it's difficult to be precise. But the general points would be:-

Your friend MUST (as a matter of urgency) ensure his garden is secure and escape proof. I know I go boring on about secure gardens but if there is the slightest, tiniest doubt, this is your first line of defence for any dog. Bluntly if it hadn't got out, this would not have happened. I'd also make sure I had adequate insurance.

The Dangerous Dogs Act is a flawed piece of legislation and if this is the act used, I'd be surprised, since it only applies in a "public" place, and does not apply to dog on dog incidents, but does to dog/human interactions (one of the many failings of the act). If the solicitor concerned is not a dog expert, then I'd recommend using a specialist legal firm such as Trevor's - he has an excellent website, and a telephone advice line. Before appearing in court there are a number of things owner can and should be doing - these include seeing a registered, reputable behaviourist, possibly doing classes and in general everything possible to ensure he is a responsible pet owner. One of the issues to be considered also when the CPS are considering prosecuting are whether there are any other complaints, and importantly the CRIMINAL RECORD OF THE OWNER - if your friend has any sort of record, this will be a factor especially for any sort of crime of violence. They will also look at possibility of reoccurrence - so again, need to provide evidence of responsible dog ownership.

It's also critical you find out if they are charging as an aggravated or non aggravated - if aggravated, then it's Crown Court, very stiff penalties (including potentially prison) and PTS without the option for the dog, while if non aggravated, then it's magistrate court, lesser penalty and the possibility of a repreive for the dog.

R's owner should also be concerned about the likelihood of a civil liability claim for damages - again, one of those reasons for having insurance.

It's hard to say any more really - I'd just reiterate that getting SPECIALIST legal advice, such as from Trevor, is essential and so is checking his insurance and his fences.

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 13:48:44

Hi all, just about to go into a meeting but quickly:

Other dog owner was DEFINATELY not injured. R's owner says that was the very first thing he checked.

Police havent said anything about R being a dangerous breed, less the one single comment at midnight that she 'looked like a pit bull'

R's owner doesnt have any criminal convictions - never been charged. Pillar of the community type.

Gotta go but more later.

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 15:48:48

Hi, well that was a couple of hours I'm never getting back...(bloody H&S).

The problem with the dog escaping was just bloody bad luck. A few months ago R was attacked by a badger in the back garden. It was found to have built a sett under Owners shed. R's Owner called animal control type people and when they came out they said that Owner was not allowed to block up/fill in the sett.

Since then R hasn't been allowed in the garden on its own. Owner's son was with his mates in back garden, R was with them. They did not know at the time that badger had built a 'run' to the sett, tunnelling under the fence (fence is one of those metal Australian ones). R went out through this run, the boys did not notice.

If owner has been allowed to block the sett this wouldnt have happened.

Still dont know who reported R or why. If the police are telling the truth and were responding to a 999 call then it wont have been other dogs owner - R's owner took him and other dog straight to vet and stayed with them. R's owner was the one that stopped the dogs fighting.

Unless other dogs owner decided to phone 999 a week later? If it was other dogs owner then can he be done for tresspassing I wonder? God I dont know.

R is chipped, insured and has public liability insurance (used to be a pub dog - pub garden is where she was dumped).

R's owner was arrested at the time (of the midnight raid), but released (?) straight away. He hasn't heard if CPS is going to take it further.

Vallhala Tue 04-Oct-11 16:33:06

notmeagain, I'm surprised that you're surprised. This is by far from the first case of arrest whereby a person HASN'T been hurt. As you must know, the law states that a person needs only to claim that they FEARED being hurt for an offence to be caused.

You state too that:

"I strongly disagree with Vals advice to lie about the whereabouts of the dog expecially if he has a court case pending shock However do agree that the dog needs to be in a secure safe place that may not be the owners accommodation. - where that may be will be difficult to find. Lennox is being tried under a different legal system to England and although I would be concerned about the police seizing the dog under the dangerous dogs act DNA testing has been used in many cases in the UK and all of the cases have been thrown out of court. So if the dog is not a dog listed on the dangerous dogs register there is no need to panic and commit perjury."

May I point out the following please:

1. Contrary to what you allege above, I have made it very, very clear in my post that what I was saying wrt getting the dog to safety was not advice to the OP but purely a description of what I would do. I have not advised the OP's friend to lie to the authorities.

2. There is every reason to be extremely concernd if a dog is deemed type by a prosecuting officer. One of our number (rescue/AR) very recently had dogs "put to sleep" (hate that twee, cosy euphemism), as a result of this.

Vallhala Tue 04-Oct-11 16:43:12

Law on DDA says that an offence is committed if the dog is dangerously out of control in a public place or a private place where the dog was not permitted to be.

So, that alone would beg the question where did the incident take place

LtEveDallas Tue 04-Oct-11 17:14:36

Oh Val, that's good, I'll look into that. R was not in a public place when the fight happened, was on private road belonging to owner and two others (3 households). Road is clearly marked as private and other dog owner isn't one of the householders. Road leads to a field owned by one of the other households, there is no throughway.

That helps, will check it out now smile

Scuttlebutter Wed 05-Oct-11 12:51:58

LED, one of the things I'll reiterate till I'm blue in the face is that your friend MUST get specialist legal advice - preferably from someone like Trevor Cooper who really knows what he's talking about, and is in possession of all the facts of the case. Neither Val nor I are lawyers, just experienced rescue people and I'm very concerned about the whole midnight arrest/identifying of dog as "type" thing since these introduce new issues, subsequent to the original confrontation.

One of the key things that came out of the seminar last week is that there is NO definitive test for a pit bull type - the dog must be "substantially" like the breed description but this offers a huge amount of leeway. If your friend wants to protect his dog then good legal advice is the most important thing he can get, since once the police identify the dog as a PB then there is simply NO alternative legally but for it to be killed.

One of the things that Trevor reiterated at the seminar, and it's a tough lesson to learn, is that the DDA is a flawed, and very HARSH piece of legislation - it's designed to be. R's owner needs an expert on his side, especially if the police are now thinking he's a PB, even potentially. Remember that if a dog is identified as being PB, his behaviour can be flawless - but that is no defence.

Now is not the time to go into the rights and wrongs of this legislation, (the link to the Guardian round table discussion does that very well) but it's important to deal with legislation as it is, warts and all.

LtEveDallas Wed 05-Oct-11 14:04:50

Scuttlebutter, thank you. I have given R's Owner Vals link to Dogslaw, and I printed some stuff off for him about the DDA.

His own solicitor has actually said to him that he wont do any digging until he hears what the CPS intend to do. Owner hasn't heard anything since the midnight raid on the 26th. Owner has said he will definately get some specialist legal advice.

I spoke to the Dog Warden here (different County) last night and he said that a dog on dog attack would NOT be prosecuted here, so I'm hoping it is the same in Owners county.

notmeagain Wed 05-Oct-11 16:27:47

Val I am surprised because it is very very very very rare to prosecute dog on dog attacks. No time at the minute but I will look at all the cases in the last year and see what percentage were dog on dog aggression.

The owners may initially be charged but it very unlikely that this case will go ahead. Again professional experience here not anecdotal evidence.

I am glad that you did NOT encourage the OP to lie about the dogs whereabouts I must say that is how it came across in the post.

I am sure you understand it is foolish to lie about the whereabouts of the dog and admitting that it is due to carelessness from a family member, that the dog has escaped when the case of law would be about owner competence to keep a dog secure would just be giving the defence lawyers a gift! (I do understand the need to keep the dog safe and not seized and I did mention that and hence did expressed the need to cover your point 2).

Vallhala Wed 05-Oct-11 20:38:10

notmeagain, oh come on! Gimme a break! I couldn't have made it any clearer! Not only did I say "If I were that I owner... I would.... " but I also added that:

"^I don't advocate that others should do as I would^ but as I always say, I don't do legal I do moral - and in the light of the Lennox judgment I my conscience is clear on that."

If you really believe that it came across in my post that I was encouraging the owner to do as I would then I'm even more worried about the folk who deal with DDA cases professionally than I was before! grin

notmeagain Wed 05-Oct-11 20:46:58

Val "I'm even more worried about the folk who deal with DDA cases professionally than I was before!" not sure of the relevance of that comment are you guessing that I work with DDA cases?

Interesting your other post on another thread suggesting similar action has been deleted

Vallhala Wed 05-Oct-11 20:47:42

Sorry, pressed send too soon. New laptop is a PITA!

One thing that I obviously didn't make clear, notmeagain, was that I wasn't referring to dog on dog attacks I was referring to cases where the dog had been accused of being dangerously out of control without having hurt a person. IE that arrests are made under the DDA on the grounds of the FEAR of harm as well as ACTUAL harm. Sorry for the confusion. smile

PERSONALLY I would take every measure to ensure that my dog was not seized and would far rather take any punishment for his "disappearance" than have HIM take the punishment and risk death.

PERSONALLY! grin

But all this is immaterial. ScuttleButter is, as ever, entirely right and calm, reasoned and very wise to emphasise that of course I am not a lawyer and can only give personal opinion and that Rs owner needs to take specialist advice. smile

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