Sheffield owner of 'happy, friendly' dog fails in legal fight to save him from being put down

Miss Grant's case was heard in the High Court
Miss Grant's case was heard in the High Court
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A 'happy, friendly' family dog will be put down after his Sheffield owner failed in a desperate legal battle to save him

Mum-of-two Emily Grant's dog 'Blitz' was condemned to die after he escaped from her garden in Southey Hall Road, Southey, and was rounded up by dog wardens.

Investigators said the three-year-old was of a 'pitbull type' - but a canine expert described him as a "happy, friendly and excitable young dog" who loves humans.

In a bid to save her beloved pet's life, Miss Grant challenged the order at the High Court in London.

Her lawyers said Blitz posed no danger to anyone and his owner was more than capable of looking after him in the family home.

Barrister, Pamela Rose, claimed Miss Grant had been discriminated against as a single mother after a judge doubted her ability to cope with Blitz and two small children at the same time.

Blitz was "generally a nice dog", she said. "He's not aggressive and he's only about the size of a Labrador.

"Lots of single parents have dogs and that doesn't make them dangerous.

"In reality, we are dealing with a family pet that is a nice dog.

"The law was amended to avoid nice dogs like this, who have a nice home to go to, being destroyed."

Whilst accepting that Blitz has the forbidden pitbull breed in his DNA, she said: "That does not mean his nature is dangerous".

"Police had no adverse comments to make about this dog and nobody could say that Blitz was dangerous."

Miss Grant was of impeccable character and said "there is nothing about her to indicate that she is not a fit and proper person to be in charge of this dog," she added.

"She would have no more trouble controlling this dog than anyone else".

But, rejecting the mum's challenge, Judge Jonathan Swift QC, said: "She has significant other responsibilities. Two young children are quite a responsibility."

The court heard Blitz was picked up after he escaped from the back garden of Miss Grant's house in February 2015.

He was found to be a pitbull-type dog, a breed banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

During an assessment, a former police dog handler found Blitz to be "a happy, friendly and excitable young dog, who thoroughly enjoys human interaction."

But, following a court hearing, Blitz's destruction was ordered - a decision which was upheld on appeal at Sheffield Crown Court in January last year.

Judge Robert Moore QC, sitting with two magistrates, said Blitz was a "pleasant, not aggressive, and nice dog" and Miss Grant a "nice person".

However, he said he had to bear in mind the fact the dog was of an illegal breed and had been impounded for almost a year.

If returned, he would be under the control of Miss Grant, who also had two very young children to look after.

The court concluded that, due to her child-care duties, Miss Grant was not a "fit and proper person" to be in control of a banned dog.

Miss Rose said the family home was suitable for Blitz and Miss Grant had taken steps to ensure her garden was fully secured.

The court could have made a "contingent destruction order", which would have allowed Blitz to return home under strict conditions, she added.

But, rejecting the appeal, Judge Swift said such an order was not an "alternative option" and could only be made if the court was satisfied Blitz was not a danger.

The court had not discriminated against Miss Grant as a single mother and her childcare duties were relevant to her ability to control Blitz, he told the court.

The judge added: "The court placed weight on her responsibilities for caring for two very young children.

"I consider it was appropriate for the court to do so in this case, based upon its own experience.

"Looking at matters in the round, I am satisifed that the court was entitled to conclude that it wasn't satisfied that the dog didn't constitute a danger to public safety."

Miss Rose indicated she intends to launch a further appeal against the judge's decision and Blitz's destruction will be delayed pending any outcome.