Banned Breed Court Cases | Dogs Saved from Court Order | PAWS

Dogs Saved from Destruction Orders

We wanted to take a few moments to celebrate some happy endings for dogs we’ve defended at court and saved from destruction.

If you’re reading this while worrying about your own dog, currently seized by the police and awaiting judgement, we would love for you to read these and remember: There is still hope.

Rio and Reggy: ‘Banned Breeds’

UK legislation on banned breeds is notably unclear in places. If a dog is suspected of being a banned breed or ‘type’ the owner of the dog will likely be prosecuted for an offence under S1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Rio and Reggy came up against this law after an incident where a dogwalker was injured. This incident itself wasn’t what put them at risk, as there was some uncertainty about which dog injured the walker and what the events leading to the injury were.

However, this led to South Yorkshire police challenging Rio’s exemption, and Reggy being suspected of being a banned breed.

Over the course of the case, we were able to prove that neither dog was actually of a banned type. Rio and Reggy were returned to their owner, with no additional legal complications hanging over either of them!

Butch: Tragic Circumstances

You may already have heard of the case of Butch, discovered locked in his owner’s home some days after his owner had died. Deprived of any other food, Butch survived the only way he could.

When Merseyside Police discovered the body – and butch – a dog handler was assigned to seize and kennel Butch. During his behaviour examination the officer employed the outdated ‘alpha role’ tactics to secure and check on Butch.

These techniques are also a form of assessment, but they are aggressive and can provoke an aggressive response, which the dog is then judged on.

This is what happened to Butch – in self-defence, he bit the dog handler, and was at risk of destruction as a result.

We were able to prove this through legal arguments and video evidence however unfortunately Butch passed away during his time in police kennels so never got to live to see the outcome of the case.


Rex: £20,000 of Taxpayer Money Wasted

Staffordshire bull terrier Rex had been taken in by Clacton’s Last Hope Rescue centre. The owner was looking to find him a new home on the Isle of Man. Before that could happen, the police got a report that Rex was an illegal pit bull type dog.

This led to criminal prosecution, but this was set aside due to insufficient evidence.

The Crown Prosecution service discontinued the case, however Essex Police moved in to take civil action instead, continuing to believe Rex to be a banned breed.

We stepped up to defend Rex as the police prepared to increase their legal bill on this case to a sum of up to around £20,000 – enough for another police constable on the street.

Although this case is still ongoing, Rex has now been released from police kennels and is currently living at home under the terms of the interim exemption scheme. The interim scheme is a scheme available which allows suspected banned breed dogs to go home pending court proceedings providing that the owner follows a set of strict conditions.

Unfortunately, a lot of police forces around the country refuse to offer this scheme and prefer to keep dogs in kennels until the case has concluded.

Muppett: Storm Survivor

During Storm Doris in 2017, Muppett, a Lurcher Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, and his fellow dog Phoebe fled from the garden in which they were housed to seek safety. Under heavy stress, they reacted badly to the approach of people they didn’t know.

The dogs did their best to stay safe and unfortunately during this time it was alleged that four people were injured –as a result Phoebe was shot dead at the scene by police. Luckily for Muppett he was seized by police instead. Rather than sign a civil destruction order, his owner contacted us. When the case came before the court we were able to broker an agreement to keep Muppett alive, well, and have him returned back to his owner.

Missy: Saved for the Second Time

Suffering under a neglectful owner, Missy had been rescued and nursed back to health by the RSPCA. A new owner had been found, but the same court that handed her previous owner a community sentence for their abuse ordered Missy’s destruction. The reason? She was thought to be a banned breed.

We secured a revocation of the order, only for Defra to challenge this revocation. A long process finally culminated in Defra’s challenge being thrown out by the courts.

Luckily for Missy she rightfully got the second chance she deserved with her new owner.

Bane, Blazer, and Kilo: Judged Over Social Media

These three dogs thought to be a breed known as the XXL Bully are the apple of their owner’s eye – so much so that he shared photos on Facebook. This turned out to be his undoing – as someone reported them based on a glance at one of the photos on Facebook.

The charge? Being of a banned breed. An independent assessor we located provided the findings that we expected – all three dogs did not have enough characteristics to be found to be Pitbull type dogs. The owner financed his defence through GoFundMe, bringing in support from his friends and from other dog lovers who flocked to help.

Unfortunately the Judge on the day chose to accept the evidence of the police that all three dogs were prohibited type dogs despite our canine expert strongly disagreeing. Luckily all three dogs were granted exemption and were returned to their very relieved owner.