Would you know what to expect if the police seized your dog?

Due to the reckless behaviour of some, our dogs are under scrutiny.

There is no doubt we have a problem with out of control dogs and we need a solution.

But, will adding another “type” to the banned breed list lead to innocent dogs being seized and losing their lives?

Since the proposed XL Bully ban was announced, we have been getting messages from worried dog guardians. And not just XL Bully families. So many people who live with larger dogs are concerned that their dogs will be targeted because of the ban & negative media attention. Shockingly there are several listeners who have taken to wearing bodycams on walks to prove their dog’s innocence should they be accused of having an aggressive dog. Others have reported prejudice on the streets from other dog walkers, neighbours, and members of the public. A smaller percentage of listeners have a concern that I share. They are concerned that adding another breed to the banned breed list combined with negative attitudes to large breeds may pave the way for further breeds to be added. Regarding the XL Bully ban, I wonder how the breed will be defined as it is a cross breed which is not registered with the UK kennel club. There are currently no breed standards or specifications. Will these dogs be seized by “type” as in the case of Pitbull Terriers. Will dogs be deemed type using a tape measure. Will dogs that look like the XL Bully and match measurements deemed to define the breed get caught up in a place they shouldn’t be.

Will you find yourself on the receiving end of a seizure & if so, what might happen? I spoke to Mark Riley from Rocky’s Army about dog seizures. Rocky’s army support people who have had their dogs seized, offering them advice & helping them find any funds needed to fight their seized dogs’ corner. Mark told me that if the police suspect your dog to be a banned breed, they need a warrant to enter your home & take your dog. If you are in a public place they can seize right away without a warrant. You don’t have to be at home when they seize either. The police can enter the property by any means and take your dog. Mark told me that a dog had been seized while alone in their home. Their family on returning to the property found the front door open & their dog gone. The police can also seize if a minor is in the property with the dog. He told me the very distressing story of a dog called Tyson who was seized wile at home with a 17-year-old girl & her younger brother. The seizure went horribly wrong, and, in the process, Tyson was set on fire, with the 17-year-old girl & her brother watching this nightmare unfold.

I asked Mark if there is such a thing as dog bail for dogs that are seized. He told me about the interim exemption scheme. The scheme is only executed by some police forces, not all and allows a dog to be returned to their family home should they already meet the criteria of an exemption while they wait to go to court. The dogs that aren’t granted exemption prior to trial are held in kennels. It can take months and months for the dog’s trial date to come around. During this period their family is not allowed to visit them. They most often don’t receive any updates on their dog’s health & wellbeing even when a dog is seized with a chronic health condition. Mark said that there are a few police officers who are very good at keeping families informed but sadly it’s not the norm. When a dog becomes ill and passes away in police custody the police are obliged to tell families as soon as possible. Mark tells me that through his experience this can take anything from 7 days to a month. One poor dog who passed away while in custody had their body put in a freezer at Christmas before their family was told of their passing.

Dogs get extremely stressed during and after seizure. It must be so frightening for them to have strangers enter their home & remove them often with their family either in a state of shock or high emotion. The solitude of a kennel environment & the lack of familiarity and family members must be very confusing and worrying for the dog. We have interviewed people whose dogs have been seized, comment that their dog came home very underweight. Not because there was a lack of food but because they were so stressed, they wouldn’t eat. Seizures cost a lot of money too. The cost of kennelling alone racks up a huge bill which the dog’s family is expected to pay although sometimes the judge is kind on this point. However, that leaves the taxpayer to pick up the bill. It beggars belief that so many dogs who find themselves deemed type & seized are no risk to people or other animals at all & have never done anything wrong.

The current situation with XL Bully’s worries us dreadfully. As soon as the proposed ban was announced our phone started ringing. People were worried and were looking for someone to take their dog. They were worried about unexpected financial burden. They were already experiencing prejudice on the streets and in one case a gentleman was told by his landlord that he could no longer keep his XL Bully despite being granted permission to have a dog previously. Thankfully, with family support and the concern of the public the landlord backed down. What is even more concerning regarding this event is that the dog is the gentleman’s support dog.

There has also been a flurry of XL Bully surrenders to rescues that have the space and resources to take them & in some cases the dogs have been abandoned to the streets to fend for themselves. Once more a knee jerk reaction to a very real & serious problem is creating negative outcomes for dogs and their people. You cannot blame an entire “type” for the actions of a few. You should not sentence innocent dogs to death because of the actions of some.

Mark currently has a petition calling on the government to form an independent inspection scheme for dogs held under the dangerous dog act. It reads as follows “ Form an animal welfare scheme of independent experts from animal welfare organisations, a behaviourist, and a vet to observe and inspect conditions of kennels where seized dogs are held.

Dogs have been returned home with serious health conditions, illnesses or underweight. We believe seized dogs are not being cared for in accordance with Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and Section 3 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, because the kennels of seized dogs are not currently inspected by an independent team like the Animal Welfare Independent Visitors Scheme which is used for police dogs”

You can find it here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/643446

Mark & I chatted at length about the topics mentioned in this article in greater depth. We also spoke about the lasting effect seizures have on the dogs family. The emotional impact of seizures are immense and in some cases traumatic. We spoke about family members of the dogs who need assistance in understanding what is happening at the time of seizure. More and more dogs are in roles where they are supporting their owners. The threat to and absence of an assistance dog can be traumatic for the dogs human.

I know a lady whose dog was seized despite doing nothing wrong. The lady suffered PTSD & to this day panics in certain environments worrying that her dog will be seized again.

Please listen to the broadcast here, it is certainly worth a listen.

You can find it here https://www.podcastdogdeskradio.com/2264860/13816859-mark-riley-police-seized-my-dog

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