A family's “friendly” but adventure-loving pit bull terrier-type dog is facing a death sentence – because it has repeatedly scaled a 6ft garden fence and escaped into a housing estate.

Owner Jason O’Neil told magistrates he had done all he could to contain his dog Kizzie, erecting a huge fence to contain her.

The court heard how the dog – which even police agree has a “soft and friendly” temperament – is well known on Carlisle’s Raffles estate because it had escaped so many times.

Whenever challenged by dog wardens, Kizzie obediently scurries back home.

But at the city’s Rickergate magistrates’ court, Mr O’Neil’s mother Elizabeth Ann Richardson, 52, in charge of Kizzie while he was in prison, was prosecuted for failing to comply with the terms of a Dangerous Dogs Act exemption certificate.

Kizzie’s breed means her owner or keeper must always ensure she is on a lead and muzzled in public.

The certificate also forbids allowing her to stray.

In court, Richardson, of Raffles Avenue, Raffles, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the terms of the dog exemption scheme.

Prosecutor Pamela Fee outlined how on July 21 a police officer was in the Raffles Avenue area when he saw Kizzie trot across the road and into a nearby play park.

It had neither a muzzle nor a lead on it.

When challenged, Richardson said she was the dog’s keeper because her son Jason O’Neil was in prison.

She said she had helped to care for the dog since it was eight weeks old.

“She said she was not fully aware of the conditions she had to comply with,” said Mrs Fee.

“She said the papers [about it] were packed away somewhere in the house.

“She said the dog was soft and friendly.”

Richardson told the officers that the dog had got out through a hole in the fence, said Mrs Fee.

The prosecutor added: “She said it’s not the dog’s fault – it’s totally mine.”

Police also confirmed that insurance for the dog – another of the conditions that owners had to meet for such dogs – had expired.

Mrs Fee went on to say that whenever dog wardens challenged Kizzie she had gone back to the family’s garden.

The lawyer said the police officer agreed with Richardson’s assessment of Kizzie’s temperament.

Richardson apologised for the dog escaping, saying: “She just keeps jumping over the fence.”

Speaking from the public gallery, her son, Mr O’Neil, told the court: “I’ve put a 6ft high fence right around the garden.

“She jumps over, so there’s no way to keep her in. Police have brought the dog back numerous times... I can’t build the fence any higher than it is.”

Mr O’Neil explained that he had already spent £2,000 on retrieving the dog but, with a child due to be born this month, he could not afford to pay any more.

Asked about Kizzie’s temperament, he said: “I don’t know how they can say it’s a pit bull-type dog.

“It’s dad was a golden retriever, and it’s mum a Staffordshire bull terrier. It’s never bitten anyone, never been in a dog fight and never done anything around the streets. I don’t think it’s fair at all. It’s one of the most placid dogs you could have.”

Magistrates said they had no option but to order Kizzie’s destruction because there was no formal challenge to the order and the exemption certificate conditions were breached.

They imposed an £80 fine on Richardson with a £30 victim surcharge.

She must also pay £500 towards Kizzie’s kennelling costs. After the case, Mr O’Neil stressed that the likely cost of challenging the sentence made it impossible for him to do that.

His partner Hannah Little, 24, said: “This has happened because Kizzie is such an escape artist. But she wouldn’t hurt anyone.”