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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Carlisle mum’s relief as pet dogs spared death sentence

A woman has spoken of her relief after two of her dogs were spared a death sentence.

Simone Cockburn photo
Simone Cockburn

Simone Cockburn told Carlisle Magistrates’ Court she believed her two pit bull/Staffordshire bull terrier cross breeds were regular Staffordshire bull terriers.

The two animals – a dog named Buster and a bitch named Lola – were seized when police called at Cockburn’s home in Carlisle on January 9.

The visit to the house in Briar Bank, Belah, came after officers received a tip that a “pit bull-like dog” was in the property. Prosecutor Adrienne Harris told the court: “They (the dogs) appeared to be good natured at the home.”

She went on to say that the animals were taken to police kennels and examined by a dog expert the following day. He determined they had “characteristics of a pit bull-like dog”.

Miss Harris added that the animals had been nervous when examined and had urinated frequently.

Pit bulls were one of four dogs affected by dangerous dog laws passed in 1991. Owners have to fulfil strict requirements and courts can give automatic orders forcing the dogs to be destroyed.

However, courts can also issue “contingent destruction orders” if the police do not believe the animals are a risk to the public.

This gives owners two months to get the dog insured, microchipped, given an identity tattoo and neutered. It must be muzzled in public and only walked by someone older than 16.

This course of action was recommended by police.

John Smith, defending, told the court the dogs had frequently played with Cockburn’s children and had obeyed police commands to get into the back of a vehicle when they were taken away by officers.

Mr Smith then said Cockburn had bought the dogs after replying to a newspaper advertisement last year and believed them to be pure-bred Staffordshire bull terriers.

He said: “The family have previously had Staffordshire bull terriers.

“There is nothing to suggest in any way to suggest the dogs are violent or aggressive or dangerous. They are from a pit bull type, that is it.”

Cockburn, 45, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of a fighting dog. She was given a contingent destruction order and was fined £100.

She was also ordered to pay £85 in costs, a victim surcharge of £20 and £350 to cover the costs of the dogs accommodation in police kennels, where they will remain until the order’s demands are met.

If the demands are not met in two months, the animals can be destroyed.

Afterwards, Cockburn said: “We are pleased to be getting the dogs back.

“They are family pets and everyone has missed them and want them back where they belong.”

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