A few days ago a reader forwarded me a shocking story.
A lady called Jill lost two of her four Standard Poodles and was worried sick. She was out till 1am searching for them.
The next morning she started looking again at 5am, but a couple of hours later the dogs returned home under their own steam - very tired and wet but otherwise unscathed.
Now that should be a happy ending.
A few hours later the police turned up and arrested her partner and seized the two dogs. Jill's partner was taken down the station given a DNA test, was fingerprinted - the works. The police originally cited the Dangerous Dogs Act on the doorstep. Some sheep had been worried overnight and while no one had actually identified the culprit – the Poodles were prime suspects.
The dogs didn't seem to have any blood on them or wool in their teeth. It was a complete shock to the owners to have them accused of sheep worrying.
The charge was later changed from the DDA to the Livestock Act - which is apparently a civil offence and not a criminal one.
So why then was the owner arrested? The Livestock Act – I was told – has no power of arrest. Plus the top dog law specialist (Trevor Cooper) told Jill that Livestock has no provision for the police to take the dogs away.
The police say they are doing forensic tests on the dogs. After talking to Trevor, Jill has asked the police to give the dogs back - but has so far had no joy.
Jill has asked for help from all the big animal charities, but she says she now feels like a leper, none have come to her aid.
I have tried to assist all I can but I am now scratching my head.
What a nightmare – it’s bad enough to lose a beloved dog. I’ve walked the streets for days searching for one of mine and I remember when I finally found her – one of the happiest days of my life.
But imagine after getting your dog back you find yourself criminalized. Your poor dogs are taken away to a secret location. There are no visiting rights. You can’t sleep for worrying. Could they face the death sentence? Will you ever see them again?
Jill found herself with nowhere to turn for help.
Remember – at the moment no one has linked these dogs to the sheep. The only witness said she saw a brown dog in with the sheep – but she was looking through a rhododendron bush in poor weather so couldn’t be sure. There are lots of other brown dogs – would the police do an ID parade? And now the local paper has already put out a story naming the Poodles as sheep worriers – what chance do they have of a fair trial?
If anyone has any ideas of what to do next I’ll pass them on to Jill.
Paris Hilton only got to spend a couple of nights in jail – these poor Poodles have already served a very much longer sentence and one of those has a dietary intolerance – prison food is not going to agree with her. Amnesty international should have a canine division. Poor old dogs. Guilty until proven innocent, capital punishment - Britain a nation of dog lovers – I don’t think so.
Sorry it’s such a serious first blog – but these poor oppressed Poodles desperately need our help!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor, Dogs Today