Monday, April 22, 2013

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It should never happen to any dog. This evidently happened somewhere in the UK. But similar things have happened in many places.

"Three year old crossbred dog ‘Tyler’ was forcibly removed from his home at 7.30 am on December 20th 1991 amidst scenes of great distress. When owner Debbie answered her door, dressed in her nightgown, there were at least 5 arresting officers, two wearing protective clothing and carrying catchpoles.

Tyler was dragged from the bed where he had been sleeping upstairs with a 6 year old child, his neck bleeding as the catch poles tightened in the struggle. When his owner began to obstruct the arrest of her dog she was restrained, forcibly led away down the street in her nightgown and arrested, her dog was driven away in the back of a van.

 A canine helpline volunteer described the later "upsetting" home visit, “I remember staring at the large bloody clumps of her hair on the mantelpiece, pulled out in the struggle on the morning her dog was seized.”

 Like all dogs seized under section one of the Act, Tyler was held in kennels at a secret location. Owner contact was denied. His treatment during his confinement was later described in court as "terrible". Tyler had never harmed anyone or anything, he had done no wrong. Behavioural assessment videos were shown to the court in which Tyler remained calm and docile in the face of other dogs, aggressive dogs, sheep, imitation cats and confrontational strangers. At no time did Tyler react or show signs of being "dangerous".

Detailed and exhaustive evidence of Tyler's stable good nature was given by behavioural expert Dr. Roger Mugford and Staffordshire Bull Terrier experts Mike Homan and Vic Pounds. During the lengthy hearing it was revealed that Tyler had sustained several injuries whilst in police care. Untreated lacerations from the catchpole used to remove him from his family home, two holes inside his mouth, a deep puncture wound to his shoulder, flesh missing from a hind leg with other small flesh wounds, pressure sores.

Tyler was described as visibly malnourished and bloated, tender around his abdomen. Mr. Pounds, in his evidence to court, stated that Tyler had wounds on his right shoulder which had been treated and on his left pasterns there was a round and fairly deep wound about one inch in diameter which he thought had been inflicted fairly recently, the wounds looked sore and was still open. He said: “I have never seen a dog in worse condition”. In his opinion Tyler had been "brutalised" and was in no fit condition to be thoroughly examined.

 Despite all the evidence, the Judges found his owner guilty of owning an unregistered ‘pit bull type’ and ordered Tyler to be put to death in seven days. Owner Debbie, overcome by the outcome, began to cry and beg the court to spare her dog, as the Judge left the room.

 Supporters present at the hearing described the atmosphere; “many people in the room were devastated when the judge said Tyler had to die – men and women alike had tears in their eyes, even some of the observers not connected with the case. To hear a woman begging and pleading for her dogs life, completely broken with grief, calling out to anyone who could hear, is the most distressing thing I have witnessed in this situation” said one observer. Debbie went home that day to her young son who was waiting with Tyler’s Christmas present, still wrapped up, certain of his friend's return. 

Tyler was destroyed on 9th March 1993 after 14 months of solitary confinement. Shortly after Tyler body was returned in a 'cold and dripping' black plastic rubbish bag."

BSL is wrong, without a doubt. But based on what I know, the tragedy here cannot be blamed solely on BSL, or anti-pit bull legislation. Those laws always contain clauses allowing people to continue keeping their dogs, although they must typically muzzle them.* No, this tragedy involves a lot more than that. A lot more. 

* Here's the joke about that: wearing a muzzle actually made other dogs attack Brindi. Sometimes two dogs, always off-leash, while she was leashed and obedient! Muzzles can confuse and frighten dogs because they can't read the other dog's signals, says our trainer, and this can provoke them into attacking. I had to carry a loud whistle and be prepared to block them from getting at her. She never once went for them.

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