The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Friday, January 09, 2009

More on Dogs

I signed a death warrant the other week. I have never done one of those before, even for a dog, which this was. After the initial chaos of the hastily cobbled-together Dangerous Dogs Act, rammed through Parliament by a Tory Government in a tabloid-inspired scramble (that must have impressed Tony Blair, since he went on to enact many of his own measures in a similar manner and for similar reasons) it proved cripplingly expensive and legally treacherous to define what was a pit bull or what was not. Many hundreds of thousands of pounds were wasted on vets' fees, kennel fees, lawyers' fees and the rest as dog owners and the police argued the toss. Now things are simpler, as certain police officers, usually experienced dog handlers, are trained and authorised to identify a dog as being from an illegal breed. Once the police have picked up the dog, it would be illegal to return it to its owner, as the proscribed breeds can only be so returned on the authority of a magistrate.
I can't say too much about this latest case, but reading between the lines, I reckon that the 'owner' was in fact minding the dog for a tougher and nastier person who was using the dog to add street cred to his drug dealing business.
If the Dangerous Dogs Act had worked as planned, there would be no pit bulls left by now, since neutering was mandatory, and the life cycle of a dog would have seen the breed disappear. Sadly, there are still many clandestine breeders (I have seen one with 23 pit bull pups in a 1-bed maisonette!) sustained by the demand from small-time hard men on the druggy estates.
Still, there's one fewer pit bull now than there was a few weeks ago.