Mild-mannered 'dangerous' dog spared death sentence
A DOG owner has been ordered by a court to muzzle and keep his pet on a lead in public.
But city magistrates did not order that the banned pit bull type animal be put down – because they heard it had not been aggressive towards people or other dogs.
Owner Nathan Matthews said he just wanted Lady back from police "because it was part of the family".
Devon and Cornwall Police applied to the court for a contingent destruction order, which means that the dog is put down unless its owner complies with a list of conditions.
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Mr Matthews, of Byron Avenue, in Honicknowle, did not oppose the order.
Magistrates agreed that the dog should not be destroyed.
Presiding magistrate Mike Uglow said: "All parties have agreed that the dog is a pit bull type, but we do not believe that the dog constitutes a danger to the public."
The court had the power to have the dog put down under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991.
Matthews, who has had the 18-month-old pet since she was a puppy, must have the dog spayed, microchipped, tattooed with an identification number and insured before it is returned by police.
The animal must be muzzled and kept on a lead in public and should be in the care of a person over 16.
Tara Smith, making the application for the police, said Lady had been seized on a warrant just before Christmas. She added it had been examined and found to be a pit bull type.
Sergeant Anthony Whitting, a dog expert with the police, said the dog had been nervous but had shown no aggression after she was seized.
Mr Matthews said the pet had lived with small children and other dogs and had never been aggressive towards any of them. He added: "I just want to get my dog back as she is part of the family."
Mr Matthews said the dog would be kept in a home with a 40ft-long garden surrounded by 6ft walls. He added he lived with his stepfather and mother who "loved the dog to bits" and they would look after Lady if he had to go to hospital.
Mr Uglow said: "No evidence of aggressive behaviour had been brought to the attention of the police or the courts."
If Mr Matthews fails to comply with the terms of the order, the dog shall be destroyed.