Campaigners celebrate after dog is released
CAMPAIGNERS attempting to save a dog from being put down are celebrating after a court ruled in their favour.
Hector, a regular at the Bowling Green pub in Exeter's Blackboy Road, faced being put down under the Dangerous Dogs Act after being accused of attacking livestock.
His owner Ashley Earland, 42, of Prospect Park, St James, admitted Hector had been out of control and paid out £750 compensation to the farmer who owned the cows.
But a dispute with the police over exactly what kind of dog Hector is led to the pet being held in custody since Saturday, April 28.
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It sparked a campaign to save him with Bowling Green regulars signing up in their hundreds and a Facebook page being set up.
Mr Earland, a self-employed plumber and gas fitter, ended up before Exeter magistrates to answer an application for the destruction of Hector who has been neutered, micro-chipped and insured.
The court ordered that Hector be released – although he will have to be registered with Defra, wear a muzzle when outside and will need to have an identity tattoo.
It means that it might be another 10 days before Mr Earland and Hector are reunited.
Mr Earland said: "I accepted the court's ruling. They let me address them and I explained what had happened. They listened and nodded.
"I have to say the police, particularly Sgt Alan Knight, were more than fair with me from beginning to end. Sgt Knight spoke up for Hector and said he was a lovely, well-adjusted dog who posed no threat.
"I admit what Hector did and I was really upset but it was not like him at all. He is not a pit bull terrier, he is a Staffie but he was being judged on what he looked like.
Mr Earland said that on the day of the attack he was walking Hector on the lead on a public footpath alongside Hoopern Fields.
He said: "Hector had shown an interest in the cows before, becoming excited but not aggressive.
"My idea was to take him up there to de-sensitise him. It seemed to be working well and he became less excited.
"On this particular day the weather was terrible. I slipped in the mud.
"The cows were spooked and reared up. The lead slipped from my hand and Hector was off.
"I chased after him but ended up being trapped up to my knees in bog. I could see Hector being trampled and kicked by the cows.
"A couple were out walking and when they saw what was happening they called the police for help."
The police arrived and Mr Earland said initially, after giving his name and address, it appeared he could take Hector home.
"It was then that one officer asked for clarification about his breed and I haven't seen him since.
"He was later measured up to find out what type of dog he was and police decided he was a pit bull.
"I want to thank everyone who supported the campaign. He's a lovely dog and in the pub he is well-known for downing six mini-salamis in the time it takes to sink a pint."
After the case a police spokesman said: "It is a timely reminder for anyone who has a dog that can be unpredictable that it is not worth risking a problem. Keep the animal muzzled when out and about."