Elstree dog owners call for review after pet mistakenly labelled as 'dangerous'
3:20pm Thursday 7th October 2010
DOG owners from Elstree are demanding a legal review after their family pet was mistaken for a dangerous dog.
Mikala Coulthard and Neil Carrington had their family dog, Tootsie, seized by police after a warrant was issued on Tuesday, August 10, following complaints to Hertfordshire Constabulary.
Tootsie was seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act, but escaped later that day over a six foot fence from kennels in Welwyn Garden City.
It was thought the dog was a Pit Bull and was taken by police to the kennels in Welwyn Garden City to establish the exact breed, which was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ridgeback cross.
Miss Coulthard and Mr Carrington searched with their 19-year-old son Ricky for the dog, putting up posters around the area and going as far as Watford and Edgware in search of her.
They received help from organization DDA Watch, which is set up to help monitor dangerous dog legislation.
Almost two months later, DDA Watch founder Alison Green received a message from Christie Lloyd, who works for Doglost.co.uk, an organisation that helps reunite owners with missing pets.
Ms Lloyd had seen a picture of a dog that was to be rehomed at Battersea Dogs Home and believed it to be Tootsie. Miss Coulthard and Mr Carrington went to the home on Monday and were finally reunited with their dog.
While at Battersea, Tootsie was officially identified by the Metropolitan Police as a non-dangerous breed.
Both Hertfordshire Police and the Metropolitan Police confirmed she could be released.
However, despite being reunited with their pet, Tootsie's owners said they are still upset at the way the situation has been handled.
Miss Coulthard said: "I am overjoyed she is back with us. She does appear withdrawn, has lost a lot of weight and is definitely not her old self.
"It took the police a few days to let us know where she had been taken and we were all very worried as she is like a family member. I understand that the reason may be that people will go and get their dogs back if they know where they are taken, but it was very upsetting for all of us."
Miss Coulthard insists the law must now be changed to avoid the worry the family faced at her disappearance.
She said: “The whole situation is surreal. Tootsie was never dangerous, had never shown any aggression and staff at the dogs home said she was a fantastic dog.
“Yet this whole situation came about because of our dangerous dog legislation.
"Had Tootsie been a little taller or heavier she may have been deemed illegal despite being a fantastic dog. We need this law to change and change now to deal with owners who
allow their dogs to be dangerous, rather than dogs that look a certain way.
“We are eternally grateful to Christie, DDA Watch and Tina Hay. Without each of them we may never have seen Tootsie again."
Hertfordshire Constabulary press officer, Hannah Williams, said: “It’s the duty of the police to investigate reports of dangerous dogs as we did in this instance. If officers have concerns about a dog they are able to obtain and execute a warrant under the Dangerous Dogs Act legislation so that it can be looked at.
"If further professional examination is required to determine whether the dog is a prohibited breed it will be seized. We are pleased Tootsie was found safe and well and we are in contact with Tootsie’s owners about their concerns.”
Elstree dog owners call for review after pet mistakenly labelled as 'dangerous' (From Borehamwood Times)