Merseyside’s “Dangerous Dog” Roundup Ruled Unlawful

Photo by J. Nichole Smith |

Photo by J. Nichole Smith |

"The police came in and took Ruben straight away. They didn't even let us say goodbye. It was just a mistake. He didn't deserve to die for the sake of £25."

Ruben's story is just one from the nightmarish roundup of so-called "dangerous dogs" from Merseyside in March. Merseyside Police seized 22 banned-breed dogs whose owners failed to comply with court orders requiring mandatory third-party insurance on the dogs. The mandatory insurance was part of the process required by an exemption clause in the Dangerous Dogs Act that spares prohibited breeds from being euthanized.

In the case of Ruben, his guardian says she kept up with the pit bull's mandatory third-party insurance every year, and simply forgot to renew the insurance in time. That missed £25 payment came at the expense of her beloved dog's life, as police took him away and had him euthanized.

A judicial review by High Court judges in Manchester today ruled that Merseyside Police acted unlawfully, and did not have the legal power to have those dogs euthanized without court permission.

The ruling may mean that the owners will be paid compensation, although no amount of money can bring back what the police took from them. While the decision comes too late for the lives of twenty-two innocent dogs, it may be a stepping stone towards more effective laws in the future that do not discriminate based on a dog's breed.

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