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Home Ashford News Article
Two Staffordshire bull terriers that have spent 10 months on death row for killing alpacas have won a reprieve today.
The pets, Roy and Betty, escaped from a bungalow in Smallhythe Road, Tenterden, last year.
They got into a nearby field where neighbour Robert Reeve keeps 22 alpacas as a hobby and attacked them - killing two.
Magistrates ruled the terriers be destroyed after the owner - 40-year-old mother-of-three Jenny Duchesne - was taken to court under an 1871 Act of Parliament.
But despite the ruling, police allowed the pets to return to the family home until the appeal at Canterbury Crown Court was heard.
Mr Reeve told Judge James O'Mahony, sitting with two magistrates, how in May last year he heard dogs barking and found one of his alpacas dead.
A second alpaca – which had its head crushed – was so badly mauled by the dogs that a vet had to put it down.
Mr Reeve said when he saw the dogs in the field they were still aggressive and were still frightening the pack.
"I felt they were protecting their kill and saw me as a problem," he said. "They were running about barking and trying to go for me."
He called the police and the animals were traced to Ms Duchesne, who said the dogs had escaped through a fence.
Dover magistrates ruled the pets were dangerous and out of control and ordered their destruction.
Animal behaviour expert Dr Kandy Di'Sa told the court most dogs had the capacity to kill, but added: "I feel it is not necessary for them to be destroyed provided they are kept under tight control in the future."
Ms Duchesne, who wept throughout the three-hour hearing, said since the incident the gate had been changed and the animals were no longer allowed in the garden if she was away.
The judge and magistrates said they sympathised with Mr Reeve, but felt "on the balance of probability" the two pets should not be put down.
They ruled Ms Duchesne's home should be available for inspection by any of Kent Police's three dog officers to ensure the security measures remained in place.
And they ordered the pets could only be walked by someone over 18 using the strongest lead available, a harness and muzzled.
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