Police Killing Of 22 Dogs ‘Unlawful’
A judicial review has found that Merseyside police acted unlawfully when they destroyed 22 dogs in March this year.
The “pitbull-type” dogs were seized from addresses across Merseyside, after their owners failed to comply with the conditions required to keep them. They were killed within hours of the raids.
Merseyside Police said that all of the owners were sent warning letters in advance of the crackdown.
The owners were devastated by the incident and took legal action against the force; solicitors launched a judicial review on behalf of 10 of the pet owners.
A high court judge has ruled that the killings were unlawful, and that only a magistrate has the authority to order the destruction of pets.
The force’s assistant chief constable stated however that they had acted in good faith, and had believed that the dogs were a threat to public safety. They did not contest the ruling, and said that it had provided clarity in a grey area of law.
The result means that the owners may be able to claim compensation for the loss of their pets. It could also allow others to claim compensation if their dogs have been destroyed in similar circumstances.
Current dog legislation allows people to keep banned dogs, like American pitbull terriers, if certain court conditions are met by the owners. The owners in this case had breached the requirements of exemption including to renewing their insurance.
Two children in Merseyside have been killed in dog attacks since January 2007. Both were killed by pitbull terrier type dogs, banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Anthony McCarthy, Director Solicitor at Macks, says: “It is important that the authorities take appropriate steps to protect the public from dangerous dogs but these steps must be lawful. The rule of law should always be upheld.”