Late reprieve for 'dangerous' dog: Police postpone destruction order on cross-breed pending appeal by owner

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A DEATH sentence on an allegedly dangerous dog was lifted at the eleventh hour yesterday to enable his owner to pursue further legal appeals against a destruction order.

Otis, a four-year-old great dane/pit-bull cross, has been under a death sentence for two years. Harry Bates, his owner, went to Limehouse police station, east London, to collect the body yesterday unaware the destruction order had been postponed.

Scotland Yard said: 'We have been informed that there may be further appeals in relation to the dog Otis.' The carrying out of the order had, therefore, been postponed pending the outcome.

Otis was seized at the age of 15 months for not being muzzled in public, a rule introduced for certain breeds by the Dangerous Dogs Act. Mr Bates, of Clapton, east London, said the dog was inside a car at the time and should not have been classified as 'dangerous' in the first place.

He launched a legal challenge to try to win back the animal, but the High Court upheld the police decision that Otis was a dangerous dog, as described by the Act, and was in a public place.

Mr Bates, who was planning to go to the European Court of Human Rights, has won the support of the Tory MP Roger Gale, chairman of the Commons' all-party animal welfare group. Mr Gale recently wrote to Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, asking him to intervene in the case.

Mr Bates arrived at the police station at 2pm, the time set for him to pick up the dog's body.

After a brief discussion he left the station to tell the waiting press his solicitor was to be given written details of the dog's reprieve.

However, Mr Bates expressed his disappointment that no length of time had been given for the reprieve. He said the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, backed by Lord Lester QC, would go ahead. Mr Bates also expressed concern about the health of his pet. He said the last time he saw Otis he had teeth missing, an eye infection and sores.

The case has been supported by Dr Roger Mugford, an animal behaviouralist who described police decision over the dog as 'nit-picking'.

Mr Mugford, who was at the police station, said police 'could have used their discretion - they need not have blown it up. This man has had his human rights violated. They took away his dog - it was like taking a child from its mother.'

(Photograph omitted)