On the 14th April 2016 a District Judge sitting in Liverpool Magistrates’ Court made a destruction order in respect of a dog known as Butch/Buster. Butch's owner had been in the process of handing him to the Senior Staffy Club as the owner had become unable to care for him. On the date Butch was to be taken for his final kennel cough injection before being handed over to the charity Butch's owner was found dead and had been dead for several days. During that period Butch had consumed some of his owner’s body. Butch had no food or water during this time and it is not uncommon for dogs who are locked in with their deceased owners to consume the owners corpse if there is no other food source available. Humans have been known to behave in the same way in extremis.
During the course of the hearing on the 14th April 2016 the District Judge found Butch to be dangerous based on a second report by a police dog legislation officer served immediately before the hearing in the magistrates’ court the first assessment was claimed to be lost by the police and was never produced at any of the hearings. In the second assessment the officer used the technique known as an alpha roll and recorded that assessment on video. The officer’s status as a witness able to comment on a dog’s behaviour was based on his qualifications obtained through the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training, however evidence has now emerged from a senior tutor and former dog legislation officer from the same institution that the alpha roll technique was not taught and is not a valid method of assessing whether or not a dog is dangerous. That statement corroborates the views of other dog behaviour experts who reviewed the video of that assessment and concluded that the method employed by the police dog legislation officer was not a valid form of assessment.
The case is currently awaiting permission form the High Court to proceed to judicial review as the case had been referred to the High Court before this new evidence emerged.
Kate Welch, a solicitor and partner of the law firm Parry and Welch Solicitors LLP said, “This dog has now been held in police custody since the 10th September 2015 at public expense. The High Court is being asked to consider whether the circumstances in which the dog was seized and the manner in which it was assessed were lawful. In times of stretched police budgets where a responsible charity is prepared to and was in the process of re-homing the dog it is surprising that the police believe continuing to fight this case is a sensible use of public money”.
Parry and Welch Solicitors, 129 Albert Road, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 6LB
Note to everyone:
1. Enquiries about this press release should be referred to Kate Welch on 0151 480 4061
2. It is not uncommon for dogs who are locked in with their deceased owners to consume the owner’s corpse if there is no other food source available. Humans have been known to behave in the same way in extremis. Many of those dogs have been successfully re-homed.
3. A video of the police officer’s assessment can be seen at: https://youtu.be/FiFA7oPhUfY
4. A decision on permission from the High Court as to whether this case can proceed further.
5. The Senior Staffy Club are funding this case and are accepting donations towards their legal costs - http://www.seniorstaffyclub.co.uk/ They have their own page specifically dedicated to Butch the direct link to help save Butch is http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/butch
6. This case has previously received publicity in the Liverpool Echo and the Sunday Mirror