This week has been a week of second chances the two following stories reflect this.
VYBZ- Vybz was seized by West Yorkshire police for being a suspected banned breed back in September 2017. Vybz did not do anything wrong he was seized solely because of breed specific legislation. Vybz owner was given advice by many people online to attend court unrepresented as it would save her from the cost of instructing a solicitor and instructing a expert. After all the police were supportive that Vybz was not a dangerous dog and they did not believe his owner to be anything other than a fit and proper person surely the court would agree for Vybz to go home. Unfortunately that was not the case, without a canine behaviourist seeing Vybz or a legal representative defending the case there was no argument to show the court that Vybz did not pose a risk to public safety. The case came before the magistrates court in October 2017. At this hearing a decision was made by the court to put Vybz to sleep.
Vybz owner immediately instructed ourselves to lodge a appeal against the decision.
Vybz case finally came before Leeds Crown Court on the 16th February 2018 some 6 months after he was taken by police. This time around the client was present with a legal representative and a canine behaviour report from the brilliant Debbie Connolly. When the case was presented to the court the Judge was satisfied that Vybz was not dangerous and he did not pose a risk to public safety. Vybz will therefore now become a exempted dog. He will be placed on the register with DEFRA and will shortly be reunited with his extremely happy family.
This is a case that shows despite support by police a case can still go the wrong way without the proper legal help and advice by experts.
Please note the cost of a appeal is higher than the cost of that in the magistrates court luckily for Vybz his owner had the backing and support of online support group BSL Victim support UK who raised funds to pay for the assessment and legal fees.
Legal aid is not available for applications brought under S4B Dangerous dogs act 1991.
Benson - Benson was seized by Kent police as a suspected banned breed after being found as a stray and taken in by the local warden.
A online group were concerned about what would happen to Benson so launched a campaign to find his owner. Luckily this reached Benson's owner who reached out. It turned out that Bensons owner was working away out of the country and that Benson was being looked after by his brother and his brother partner until he lost his home. Arrangement were made for Benson to be temporarily looked after by a friend until new accommodation could be sorted with the owners brother. During this time the dog was passed around to different families without the owners consent and was eventually found straying.
BSL victim Support Uk got involved and started raising funds for Benson. A independent assessment was undertaken by Dr Kendal Shepherd who agreed with police that Benson did have substantial characteristics to be deemed Pitbull type.
Unfortunately due to how the law in this country works this meant that Benson's owner could not possibly have Benson exempt to himself due to his work commitments taking him out of the country away from Benson for over 30 days in a 12 month period. Luckily for Benson the brothers partner who had a very close relationship to Benson prior to seizure made arrangements and was happy to step forward as Benson's new owner. When the case came before the magistrates court the Judge took issue with ownership and made the decision despite Benson's friendly nature to place a destruction order on him.
A appeal was immediately lodged with the crown court. While waiting for the case to proceed to appeal a well publicised case about a exempt dog came before the high court. This case had a few similarities to that of Benson's case. Luckily the high court case was successful which meant that a dog could be exempted to someone providing they had been in charge of the dog for some period at the relevant time.
Benson's case came before Maidstone Crown Court for appeal on 9th February 2018 with the brilliant Cathryn McGahay QC instructed to defend Benson. The appeal was a success and a contingent order was allowed. After many moths in kennels Benson will now be placed on the exemption register and will be reunited with his new very familiar owner in the following weeks.