Deed Not Breed Press Release. After the elation last week of hearing that her two dogs Roxy and Hooch were to be returned to her after a year incarcerated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, Irene Chambers (64) of Belfast, Northern Ireland had to make the devastating decision to have Roxy destroyed. Roxy and Hooch were separated after previously living together with no problems, but after 12 months solitary confinement in kennels and following a controlled reunion it became clear that Roxy was unable to cope with living with another dog. Heartbroken Mrs Chambers felt that having Roxy put to sleep was the only option open to her. It was obvious that Roxy and Hooch who were once best buddies were not going to settle together and though the possibility of rehoming Roxy was considered, it was thought she had been so traumatised during her long imprisonment that a rescue placement, which would entail Roxy going back into a kennel environment, would be just too cruel. Roxy was also profoundly lame from a damaged cruciate ligament (knee-joint) worsened by lack of exercise and jumping up at the front of her kennels.This is a very painful condition which even expensive surgery does not always cure. Mrs Chambers proved that she is the responsible owner she always said she was by making the right decision for her beloved dog, despite that decision breaking her own heart. Mrs Chambers, of Knock Way, East Belfast, appeared in court last week facing two charges of keeping outlawed pit bull terrier-type animals. The dogs, seized last January by the Dog Wardens of Belfast City Council and assisted by the USPCA, would have been put down if she had been convicted. Northern Ireland law is different from on the UK mainland because Stormont has not implemented the 1997 amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act ( which allows dogs found to be of pit bull type but deemed not to be a danger to be added to the exemption register subject to certain restrictions). In court last week,Magistrate Ken Nixon said the expert evidence put forward in this case had been key to his decision. "This case is not about fighting pit bull terriers," he said. "Its about a lady lovingly caring for dogs that otherwise would have had no home." Mr Nixon found the Prosecution- evidence of Dog Warden Ms Lightfoot and USPCA Inspector Francis Fox to be not credible, whilst their veterinary expert Mr Liam Fitzsymmonds even seemed to be unfamiliar with a ruler to make simple measurements or to keep any record of his examination of Roxy and Hooch. By way of contrast, Mr Nixon praised the evidence of Animal Psychologist Dr Mugford who appeared for the defence, which he found to be comprehensive and compelling. "He and others will get fairness from this court, and that includes Mrs Chambers," "Im now dismissing the complaints before this court." An order was made for the dogs to be returned to Mrs Chambers. Dr Mugford said after the conclusion of the case In England owners can keep a dog whereas in Northern Ireland, they have to be killed because of an anomaly in the legislation. The 1997 amendment was never adopted but that was an oversight on the part of Northern Ireland legislature. I hope it is now adopted because the legislation is quite cruel. When asked about the decision to put Roxy to sleep Dr Mugford said There was a managed and controlled reunion where both Roxy and Hooch were walked together on leads and appeared to be okay with each other, however after an off lead meeting in the garden with Roxy wearing a muzzle, she was clearly uncomfortable with Hooch in a confined space and went for him. This did not happen because of the breed, its simply a matter of long term separation and confinement in sub-standard kennels. Any dog of any breed would suffer in these conditions. He added that dogs should either be left at home on bail pending court hearings,or at the very least dealt with as a matter of urgency by the courts. Mrs Chambers daughter Anne stated to Deed not Breed It is totally disgusting that Roxy has only had 7 months of family life and that the isolation she was kept in from then on made her unable to mix with other dogs. She went on to say The police were contacted anonymously last Jan 2007 about the dogs. There was no incident or trouble with the dogs whatsoever, it was just someone reporting 'pitbulls' at mums house. After a visit from the police, dog wardens attended on 17 jan 07 followed by a further visit on 18 jan 07 with a USPCA Inspector who looked at the dogs only visually (no examination) and declared they were pitbulls. The wardens returned the following day and seized the dogs. Hooch was 7yrs old and Roxy just 7 months old. My mum and brother got to see the dogs twice over the next 4 weeks and possibly once more (they cant remember) at a location which was not where the dogs were being kept. After that mum was told she would not be allowed to see them again as the travelling was distressing Hooch. The following court dates were all subsequently set and adjourned for a number of reasons...17 APRIL 07, 8 MAY 07, 19 JUNE 07, 17 JULY 07, 4 SEPT 07, 8 OCT 07 and finally 15-16 JAN 08. Mr Mugford visited the dogs on 29 JUL 07 to give an opinion. It was then that there had been a fight between the 2 dogs which resulted in the dogs being permanently separated from that day onwards. Despite Roxys tender years she was isolated from then on. Mum was told they had been together always up until that point, we will never know. On 16 JAN 08 the magistrate, Ken Nixon ruled that the dogs were not pitbulls but were mongrels and that they should be returned home. They were returned home 18 Jan 08 and kept separate until Mr Mugford arrived at mums house on 19 JAN 08 to attempt to reunite them and settle them back in. Sadly the dogs were unable to settle back together and the rest is history. Mums heart breaking decision was made to have Roxy 'put down' in the interest of both dogs. A sad irony, it was a year to the day since she had been taken away! Dogs like Roxy are suffering in isolation all over the UK. Some are lucky and are eventually released, but many come home traumatised and suffering classic ailments associated with lack of socialisation, stress and solitary confinement, such as severe weight loss, skin disorders, pressure sores, separation anxiety and scarring and injury caused by stress- related self- mutilation. Several have had to have their tails amputated due to damage sustained whilst in the care of the authorities. If a dog was found to be in this state in their own home the owners would be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, so why is it allowed to continue in police or council-appointed kennels? There are also several dogs who have inexplicably died whilst in kennels and others have lost their lives due to contracting a preventable killer infectious disease. One was even euthanised due to a clerical error. Deed Not Breed calls on the government to review an act that has done nothing to promote or improve public safety, but which has been responsible for the deaths of many innocent dogs who have committed no crime. The stress and anguish suffered by pet dogs and responsible owners is immeasurable. Deed Not Breed along with other canine organisations are campaigning to the government to reopen the register of exempted dogs. Please support the campaign by signing the petition at Petition to: open up the index of exempted dogs to owner led registration. This barbaric Act affects all dog owners. Mrs Chambers dog Roxy was found by a court of law not to be a Pit Bull Terrier but it didnt stop the DDA from ultimately taking her life.