Couple convicted despite pitbull 'not being a pitbull'
What makes a "dangerous dog" dangerous?
The ambiguity surrounding the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was highlighted this week when a couple were found guilty of possessing a fighting dog.
Despite a vet who has examined "thousands" of pitbull terriers telling Croydon Magistrates the dog in question was "not a pitbull", Donald Brooker and Michelle Bignall were sentenced on March 8.
Brooker and his hard of hearing partner Michelle Bignall, were making their eleventh appearance in court following their arrest on October 22 2010.
The couple, of Hulverstone Close, Sutton, heard defence witness Duncan Davidson tell the court their dog, Debo, achieved "one of the lowest scores I have ever seen for a section 1 dangerous dog."
Against the American Dog Breeders Association standard, a way of identifying a dangerous dog, Debo scored only 63 out of 100, 100 being pure pitbull but a score of 85 is a "good pitbull", according to Mr Davidson.
Mr Davidson, a veterinary surgeon of nearly 40 years, and an expert in pitbull identification after the influx of the dogs into the country in the late 1970's, said he was not surprised when the dog achieved such a low score.
He told the court how Debo was "basically a nice dog". He said: "This is not a section 1 dog in my view. This is probably the lowest scoring dog which has been seized for a very long time."
Prosecutor John Gardner argued the dog, although its muzzle was less than half the length expected of a dog its size, was indeed a pitbull terrier.
He told magistrates it was a pitbull because its feet, coat, eyes and tail were similar to that of a pitbull and was critical of Mr Davidson's marking system.
The couple were told that within two months Debo must be neutered, tattooed, micro chipped and have 3rd party insurance.
Donald Brooker was ordered to pay £100 and given a conditional discharge for 12 months, Bignall was ordered to pay £200 and also given a conditional discharge for 12 months.