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Friday, November 20, 1998 Published at 10:17 GMT


Death row dogs

The Dagerous Dogs Act insists that aggressive animals are muzzled

The case of Woofie, the three-year-old cross collie, is the latest in a series of high-profile cases since the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act which was brought in to curb the menace of aggressive dogs.

The act stipulated that certain breeds of dog should be muzzled and made it an offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

Other cases include:

  • Buster: Saved from a death sentence in March this year after a battle lasting nearly four years and costing up to £50,000. When the dog, owned by Sandra Rowlands, of Kirkby, Merseyside, was seized in 1994, a magistrate ruled that the animal was a pit bull terrier and should be destroyed because it had been allowed out without a muzzle. But another magistrate ruled that Buster should be released.

  • Hanky Panky: This February a judge reversed a sentence ordering it to be put down. Last October magistrates ruled that the labrador-foxhound cross, owned by Elaine Enticknap, of Totnes, Devon, would have to die, after hearing how it had twice bitten postmen in the past four years. A judge ruled that it could live but should be rehoused in an escape-proof home.

  • Kizzie: Freed by the High Court in October, 1996 after spending four years under threat of death after it was alleged to be a pit bull terrier. The dog was ordered to be returned to its owner, Jeanette Cragg, of Tottenham, north London, after two judges ruled that the destruction order issued by a stipendiary magistrate was an abuse of court powers. Kennel Club vets disagreed with a police expert who decided it was a pit bull, saying it was "weedy" with a weak jaw and no signs of aggression.

  • Otis: Destroyed in February 1996 after being on death row for more than three years. The dog was seized as a pit bull type terrier unmuzzled in the back of owner Harry Bates's car. Mr Bates, who spent £50,000 trying to save it, contended his car was not a public place, and that Otis was not a pit bull terrier, but an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights failed because it should have been lodged within 14 days of the dog's seizure.

  • Dempsey: Saved in November 1995 when two High Court judges ruled that it should be returned to its owner Dianne Fanneran, of Hanwell, west London. The pit bull terrier was originally condemned to destruction by Ealing magistrates in 1992 after being found walked in the street without a muzzle by Mrs Fanneran's nephew. Magistrates were told the muzzle had been removed because the dog was sick. The High Court judges decided that there had been a breach of natural justice because Mrs Fanneran had not been informed of a hearing by magistrates.

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