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Dog seized by council for being 'pitbull-type' returned to Bangor mum after six months


The boxer dog has been returned to its owners.
The boxer dog has been returned to its owners.

By Paul Higgins

A Bangor mum whose dog was seized for being a pitbull-type wept tears of relief and joy last week when her beloved pet was handed back.

Boxer, a two-and-a-half-year-old dog whose mum Honey is a staffy cross, was seized six months ago and hasn't been allowed to see his family since but last week at Newtownards Magistrates Court, a barrister for the council, who had been seeking a destruction order for Boxer, told the court they were happy for him to go home under an exemption certificate.

That means that Boxer must be neutered and chipped, have a valid dog licence, an insurance policy and when out in public, he must wear a muzzle and isn't allowed off lead.

"For Ards and North Down Council, Boxer is just another allegedly pitbull-type dog but for us, he is a member of our family," said owner Zyndzie Akimodo.

The council lawyer said he had a report from Zyndzie's solicitor which stated that Boxer is not a pitbull-type breed and because he is a well behaved dog, he could go home under the exemption certificate.

Under the legislation of the Dangerous Dogs Act, dogs which have "pitbull-type characteristics" are banned and once seized, if they fail a behaviour assessment, they must be destroyed, resulting in dozens of families losing their beloved pets every year.

Zyndzie explained the case began when a dog warden visited her home last summer to check a report that she had a pitbull-type dog before returning again in February.

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Boxer
Boxer

She recalled: "Again, she had a look at Boxer and this time, took him away to be assessed and having conducted all of her tests to see if he was dangerous or aggressive, she gave him back to me and said he was a lovely, well mannered dog but that I needed to get him neutered, chipped and licensed in my name for an exemption certificate.

"I did all that but the dog warden was out again months later."

This time Boxer, who was due to go and live with her ex-partner Tashinga, was removed from her home and she was told that he was "aggressive and dangerous" and that the council was seeking to have him destroyed.

Zyndzie said: "For me, they just wanted to put him to sleep no matter what and it wasn't until they saw the report from the independant assessor that my solicitor Andrew Russell organised that they said fair enough."

Now she has him back home for Christmas, she is preparing to integrate him back into the family after spending six months in kennels.

"Boxer coming home is the best Christmas we could ever have hoped for and we know it will take time and love for him to fully get his confidence back and settle back in to our life but the alternative to that, him being destroyed, just doesn't bear thanking about," added Zyndzie.

"It's absolutely ridiculous. Something needs to be done about this and something needs to change because people aren't really aware of their rights and people are losing their dogs.

"I found the Putting Breed Specific Legislation To Sleep organisation entirely by chance and thank goodness I did because if it wasn't for all the help and support I got from them in explaining my rights, helping me find a solicitor and to raise funds to pay him, Boxer would be dead right now - it's that simple."

Campaigner Jayne Dendle from the charity says the breed-specific law hasn't worked and urged anyone in a similar situation as Zyndzie to contact them via their Facebook page.

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