A young dog who appears to be a Weimaraner mix is scheduled to die in spite of his sweet, gentle nature. The courts have decided he looks like what is called a “type,” or a dog that is banned pursuant to United Kingdom (UK) law. The specific law can be seen on this UK government website.
For those of us who believe that everything British is more civilized, read on. The law says that it’s against the law to own one of four breeds of dogs, Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, or the Fila Braziliero. But the law goes much further in its scope. A dog can be banned if it’s not one of those breeds, but if it just looks like one of those breeds. The government website says, in part:
“Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.”
So you could be walking your bulldog mix, and a government official or the police could seize your dog: “If your dog is in:a public place, the police don’t need a warrant (to seize the dog) or a private place, the police must get a warrant (to seize the dog).”
What happens once your dog is seized, legally, by the government? It’s a nightmare. Forget the American “You are innocent until proven guilty.” In UK, the dog is a banned breed unless you can prove otherwise. The law says: “It’s your responsibility to prove your dog is not a banned type. If you prove this, the court will order the dog to be returned to you. If you can’t prove it (or you plead guilty), you’ll be convicted of a crime. You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) for having a banned dog against the law. Your dog will also be destroyed.”
And during the court case, which could last over a year, you are NOT allowed to even visit your dog. IF that isn’t barbaric, I don’t know what is. Perhaps some UK official could explain the harm in allowing those who love their dogs to just visit?
So a family had a dog named Blitz. This dog is sweet and gentle. This dog never showed any sign of aggression, never bit anyone, never did anything bad (except perhaps pee in the house as a puppy). But when Blitz escaped from his family’s garden last February (2015), he was legally seized and held as a dangerous dog. After several months, the family was able to get a court date (remember that during that time, they were not allowed to even see Blitz).
On July 3, the court stated that Blitz would be killed because he got out of the family’s yard. They had 21 days to appeal the verdict. The court did not assess the yard. On July 28, another court date was set for October. Again, no one from the family was allowed to see Blitz this whole time. In October, the case was postponed until January because of a paperwork error. This means that Blitz was not allowed to see his family for 11 months while his case was pending. In December, the police let the family’s attorneys (solicitors) know that they did not agree with the independent assessment of Blitz.
The final blow was yesterday. The Court upheld the destruction order to kill Blitz. The family is devastated, and poor Blitz, who has gone almost a year in a kennel with no visits from those he loved, will die. He will die alone, not knowing that he was championed by those who loved him. He will die alone, far from those who loved him dearly.
Why did the Court decide to uphold the destruction order? According to the family’s post on the Facebook page Help Save Blitz,
“After waiting nearly a year I went to court yesterday and lost the case on the grounds that I received blitz as a gift which with the police branding Blitz “type” was an illegal act on my part. I have (by) no means given up on him and spoke spoke to my legal team who are doing everything they can to bring him home. I just want to make it fully clear Blitz’s behaviour or temperament has never been in doubt. It was because of how I received Blitz. Which in my eyes is a load of bollox.”
There is a petition with over 110,000 signers. Please sign and share. Please share Blitz’s story with friends and family. A recent article in the West Briton newspaper from Cornwall clearly illustrates how ridiculous breed specific legislation (BSL) is. A Rottweiler who escaped from its home on two different occasions bit two people — and not just nips. One bite caused nerve damage to the attacked person’s arm. Yet this dog, clearly a dangerous dog, was not one of the banned “types,” therefore was returned to its owner.
This type of legislation does NOT help regulate truly dangerous dogs. It merely kills dogs who look the part. We don’t kill people who look like Hitler; we shouldn’t kill dogs who “look” like dangerous dogs. We teach our children that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, not what’s on the outside. Yet in the UK, it’s definitely what’s on the outside that is judged and found guilty.
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