We are shocked and saddened regarding the recent news that police sniffer and search dog Tyson, the young Staffordshire Bull Terrier who featured in Channel 5's TV programme 'The Dog Rescuers' is the latest victim of Breed Specific Legislation in the UK.
Tyson's assessment for suitability to join the police force as a police sniffer/search dog was introduced by comedian Alan Davies and broadcast on Channel 5 on 17th June 2014, showing Tyson demonstrating that he was an exceptionally talented dog with a particular set of skills and he had the potential to become a fully-fledged police search dog and had much to give to society in helping to combat crime and improve public safety.
Police dog trainer PC Lee Webb working for Avon and Somerset police, described Tyson as being ''one of the best dogs we've ever seen''.
Now Tyson is dead because of inherently flawed and failed sec 1 DDA 1991, and yet again the public is not safer because this friendly rescue dog has been killed under BSL.
Why did this situation not proceed to court via a DDA 4b civil application to enable Tyson to be ordered exempt by a court order?
The two statements below were posted by the Avon and Somerset Constabulary in response to the public's questions regarding Tyson's future and we would like to ask the question: Should the director of Channel 5's The Dog Rescuers programme now complete Tyson's story and reveal to the public Tyson's tragic end which was brought about because he was said to have been breed identified and found to have ''57 recognised identification points'' of prohibited breed characteristics.
We believe the Channel 5 programme makers owe it to the public to explain what happened to Tyson when he left the West Hatch RSPCA rescue centre to start his new, happy life to be trained to become a skilled canine member of the police force.
Tyson's tragic story was reported in Dogs Today magazine; a spokesperson for DDA Watch said:
"We can only hope that Tyson's death will not be in vain and that because his life was stolen from him in the prime of his life and when he had so much good work to do ahead of him, that things will change and many more people will realise the futility and cruelty caused by breed specific legislation".
Rest in peace Tyson. You will not be forgotten xx
Avon and Somerset Police statements regarding Tyson July 2014:
Avon and Somerset Constabulary, The RSPCA and the Police Tri-Force Specialist Operations Collaboration are extremely upset to confirm that sniffer dog Tyson was confirmed to be of 'Pit Bull type' and returned to the charity's West Hatch animal centre.
Tyson was one of 12 dogs to be successfully rehomed to various police forces from the Somerset-based animal centre. He was an 18 month old dark brindle and white dog who went to West Hatch in January 2013. He showed a great potential for searching and Tri-Force Specialist Operations were evaluating him with a view to him potentially becoming a search dog.
After he was collected by PC Lee Webb and taken to Avon and Somerset Police to be evaluated, two Police Dog Legislation Officers subsequently identified Tyson as being of Pit Bull type, which means he was a Pit Bull cross. As a result he had to be returned to West Hatch a week later.
Sadly, as Pit Bull type dogs are not able to be legally rehomed, vets had to put Tyson to sleep. The outcome has devastated both police dog handlers and RSPCA staff who cared for and trained Tyson over a number of months.
Tyson was not suspected of being a banned breed by the RSPCA when he was taken on and in many cases it is extremely difficult to tell if a cross breed dog has parentage from a banned breed.
Inspector Dave Eddy, who is in charge of the Tri-Force Dog Section which covers Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Constabularies, said: “We are absolutely devastated that Tyson had to be returned to West Hatch and that due to being a banned breed, he had to be put to sleep in accordance with Dangerous Dog Act.
“It can be very hard to identify the dangerous breeds if they are mixed with other breeds that look similar such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers. In Tyson’s case, it was our expert Dog Legislation Officers who identified the physical traits.
“A number of our drug and explosive search dogs are rescue dogs and include Labradors, Springer Spaniels and Staffordshire Bull Terriers (Staffies). PC Lee Webb who looked after Tyson was particularly upset. PC Webb already handles a rescue Staffie, PD Kos, who is an excellent search dog. We will continue to use rescue dogs and work with the RSPCA to use rescue dogs wherever possible.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary:
We were extremely sad that Tyson had to be put to sleep. It’s not at all the result we had envisaged when we began the evaluation process and the Dog Unit and the handlers involved are devastated. Police Dog Handlers do the job they do, because they are incredibly passionate about dogs regardless of breed. The bond they have with their animals is exceptionally close and the dogs live at home with the officer, so as you can imagine they found this incredibly difficult.
However, all police forces have to remain neutral in relation to legislation. We are not in a position to comment on the law, we have to enforce it and adhere to it in the same way the public do and we are unable to campaign either for or against specific legislation as an organisation.
Our Dog Legislation Officers, who are experts in their field with years of experience, identified that Tyson was a Pit Bull type during his evaluation, based on 57 recognised identification points. He did not belong to the Constabulary at this time, so we would have been unable to apply for PC Webb to be the registered keeper.
It would also have been almost impossible for Tyson to have worked as an effective search dog muzzled and on a lead at all times in public places including private homes or schools for example, which our dogs are regularly required to search.
We had to return him to West Hatch as he still belonged to the RSPCA at that time and he couldn’t remain with the Constabulary. The RSPCA is extremely saddened by the loss of Tyson too but they must also act within the law and sadly that meant that they felt they had no choice but to have Tyson put to sleep as he could not legally be rehomed.
Inspector Dave Eddy, who is in charge of the Tri-Force Dog Section which covers Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Constabularies, added: “We are absolutely devastated that Tyson had to be returned to West Hatch but it wasn’t feasible for him to become an operational police dog. We are committed to working with partners, including the RSPCA, to use rescue dogs wherever possible but within the confines of the law.
“We are in regular contact with centres such as West Hatch, to view and assess any dogs that show potential for becoming operational police dogs and have had great success with the animals we have taken on previously. We will always try to give rescue dogs any opportunities we can.”
DDAWatch is a Not for profit company, registration number 7393352. While care has been taken to ensure information is correct it must be noted that this site should be considered a guide only. If you find yourself affected by legislation you must seek legal representation. Information given is for England and Wales only. Legislation in Scotland and N. Ireland may differ.