A “harmless” dog has been condemned to death by a court... simply for being a pit bull terrier.
Clive Beard’s pet Bailey (similar to the one pictured left) was discovered by police when they found cannabis plants growing at his Maidstone home.
Prosecutor Alistair Keith asked for a destruction order for the animal, which Beard, 56, had owned from a puppy.
Mary Jacobson, defending, and Judge Charles Macdonald QC consulted law books at Maidstone Crown Court to determine whether Bailey would have to be put down under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991.
“People are not allowed pit bulls - that is what Parliament intended,” said the judge. “Unless someone can come up with anything really good in two months, I will have to order Bailey to be destroyed.
“The law is extraordinarily complicated and convoluted. I have to order the dog to be destroyed unless satisfied it would not constitute a danger to public safety.”
Miss Jacobson said the dog was close to Beard’s heart.
"he has taken the dog to his pub and it has always been friendly…” – mary jacobson, defending
“He did not go out to intentionally get a dangerous dog,” she said. “He was led to believe it was a pit bull labrador cross.
“Clearly, it comes as a shock. He has taken the dog to his pub and it has always been friendly. It is described as a lovely playful dog.”
Bailey was only being playful, she said, when he jumped up at a police officer at Beard’s home in Grecian Street when the 39 plants were discovered on September 5 last year.
Judge Macdonald described Bailey as “a perfectly nice dog”.
He added: “I do not regard the conduct of the dog when the police came to the house as an indication of dangerousness.
“If it rested there, I would not order his destruction. But it is going to be inevitable I have to make a destruction order.”
Beard was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court
It would not take effect for two months to allow the owner to apply for an exemption.
Beard, now of Homefield Rise, Orpington, was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with 150 hours unpaid work after admitting producing cannabis, abstracting electricity and being the owner of a dangerous dog.
The judge rejected an application for £4,624 costs to cover Bailey’s kennelling fees and destruction.