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Ex-police dog handler questions need for officers to shoot dog in Hartlepool

Retired police dog handler Sgt Ralph Bantoft.
Retired police dog handler Sgt Ralph Bantoft.

A former police dog handler has questioned the way authorities dealt with an incident which led to a dog being shot in Hartlepool.

The Caucasian shepherd was destroyed by police on Sunday afternoon in Mainsforth Terrace, after being tied to a pole.

The dog which was shot dead by police on Sunday.

The dog which was shot dead by police on Sunday.

Cleveland Police insisted it had become too aggressive to approach, leaving them with no alternative course of action.

However, former police dog handler Ralph Bantoft – who has been training problem dogs since 1967 – says he would be surprised if that was the case.

In 25 years as a dog handler, he says he never had to put one down.

Mr Bantoft, of Burwell Walk, Hartlepool, said: “It’s all about knowing what to do and how to do it, and I think Cleveland Police took some bad advice. A tethered dog barking is not an imminent threat to anyone at the scene, or the public at large.

A tethered dog barking is not an imminent threat to anyone at the scene, or the public at large

Ralph Bantoft

“I would have suggested a low profile approach by a single person, who could sit on the ground just outside of the strike area, perhaps with food, fresh water and a calming attempt to bond or get the approval of the dog, without others in view.

“I also find it hard to believe that our local dog wardens, police and vets don’t carry two restraining steel tubes with wire reinforced rope loops to place around an animal’s head, one either side restricting movement. I only hope that the one good thing that comes of this is that it never happens again.”

Mr Bantoft says he and wife June would have had “no hesitation” in taking the dog into their home in an attempt to improve its behaviour.

Since the dog’s death, an online petition seeking justice for it has been signed more than 150,000 times.

Retired police dog handler Sgt Ralph Bantoft.

Retired police dog handler Sgt Ralph Bantoft.

Police said that despite hours of working together with partner agencies including the RSPCA, a re-homing charity and consultation with numerous veterinary professionals in order to calm the dog, the difficult decision was made to destroy it.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “The dog had been seen by someone from another charity and there was concern that if the dog escaped she could have hurt someone. The police informed us that using a tranquiliser dart on the dog was not an option.

“The RSPCA believes that abandoning any dog is totally unacceptable and in this case had tragic consequences. Any information about who might have done this, please contact the Hartlepool Police, quoting log number CVP/18/011857.”