Pet owner's delight as banned Pit Bull Terrier-type Hugo gets "doggy bail" reprieve by police and court

A dog owner has spoken of her joy after a beloved family pet was given a stay of execution thanks to magistrates and police.

By Sue Kirby
Thursday, 15 August, 2019, 06:00
Hugo the banned Pit Bull Terrier-type breed has been given a reprieve.

Hugo, a banned Pit Bull Terrier-type breed, proved to be of such good character that he was released home on ‘doggy bail’ and now magistrates have agreed he can go on the exempt register.

Delighted owner, Rebecca Porteous, said she was distraught when the police informed her of Hugo’s breed and the potential he might have to be put to sleep.

Mum-of one Rebecca, said Hugo was just a tiny puppy when her boyfriend, Kane Marcinkiw, 22, bought him at Christmas for daughter, Maya-Mae, three, and they had no idea what breed he was.

Hugo was bought as a puppy by Kane Marcinkiw at Christmas.

She said: “We just fell in love with him because he is such a lovely dog. He is a massive part of the family.

“When the police came and said they had to take him away to assess his breed I was in floods of tears, I was so scared we might lose him.

“Our daughter loves him so much, they are always snuggling up together, he is such a loving dog.”

Rebecca said it is a huge relief to know Hugo won’t be going anywhere.

She said: “I didn’t know anything about Pit Bulls, I didn’t think they looked like Hugo, but the police said he was 80% Pit Bull.”

The application for destruction of a dog otherwise than on a conviction, in accordance with Section 4B of the dangerous dogs act 1991, was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court who were told that Hugo, who lives with his 21-year-old owner in Whickham Road, Hebburn, had been thoroughly assessed by dog expert, PC Stephen Henry, of Northumbria Police.

Jane Foley, solicitor representing the police, told magistrates that Hugo does not pose a risk and that Ms Porteous is deemed a responsible owner.

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PC Henry, giving evidence at the court, said he was very happy that Hugo was a loving pet and he had no problem releasing him from the kennels back to the care of his family while they waited for his case to be heard.

The officer, who is qualified to determine if a dog is indeed a banned breed, first met Hugo on July 1.

He said: “I do assessments on the dogs and if it is found to have a certain number of characteristics, over 40 of 60, I will class this dog as a Pit Bull.”

PC Henry said Hugo was found to be a Pit Bull type breed.

But he added: “I carried out a risk assessment of the dog and it’s behaviour. I found the dog is no risk. It is only a banned breed because of the way it looks and not its attitude and behaviour.”

He said all the necessary checks were carried out, including how Hugo interacted with the owner’s child.

The officer said: “I was happy to return the dog on an interim basis, a bit like doggy bail.”

He went on to say that Ms Porteous has complied every step of the way and is keen to meet any conditions of a Contingent Destruction Order – which would allow Hugo to live and be made exempt from the dangerous dog law.

Conditions include the dog must be microchipped, muzzled and kept on a lead in public places, neutered, insured, not walked by anyone under 16 and must not be bred from, gifted or sold.

Magistrates granted the order.