Our Poppy is no danger dog

Claire Leonard with Poppy
Claire Leonard with Poppy
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A woman is overwhelmed to have been reunited with her beloved family pet following months of agony after her dog was branded a ‘dangerous breed’.

Police seized 18-month-old Poppy after calling at the home of Claire Leonard on an unrelated matter.

They started asking questions about what breed the dogs were. When they took both the dogs I was so upset

Claire, 44, of Newhouse Road, Marton was left devastated when Poppy and her other dog Izzy were both taken away by officers who suspected they were a banned pitbull breed.

Nine-year-old Izzy was returned almost immediately but Poppy spent two months on the equivilent of doggy death row after it was determined she measured up as a banned type.

That has led to weeks of agony for Claire, who faced losing a beloved family pet.

She said: “It’s been awful to be honest, not knowing what is going to happen, not knowing if I’m going to get Poppy back.

“When we got her we understood she was a cross of some kind, an English Mastiff and maybe a Staffie.

“I knew both parents.

“I didn’t think for a second she’d be considered a dangerous dog, a banned breed.
“We’ve had her from a puppy. The mother didn’t bond with the pups so we took her early, from nine weeks.

“She’s grown up with us, she’s part of the family.”

Claire, who lives with her teenage daughter, was shocked when officers, who called at her house to follow up a missing persons enquiry, started asking about her dogs.

She said: “They caught a glimpse of Poppy.

“They started asking questions about what breed the dogs were. When they took both the dogs I was so upset.

“Izzy came back almost straight away but they kept Poppy.

“They came with a warrant, saying she was suspected under the dangerous dogs act of being a banned breed.

“They took measurements. It’s all down to the measurements, it’s not breed specific, there’s no tests, just measurements of the dog.

“When they said she fit the conditions to be classed as a banned breed I could not believe it.”

Since Poppy was seized by police Claire has been paying £11 a day in kennel fees.

And even now Poppy is home she has to abide by strict conditions imposed by the courts which will hit her in the pocket.

Claire said: “I’ve been given an exemption order but there are conditions.

“I have to have third party insurance, renewed every year.

“Poppy has to be muzzled, she’s not allowed off the lead.

“The police will be checking up that we are doing everything the court has ordered.

“I don’t want to risk losing Poppy again.

“She is on a contingent destruction order, if we breach the conditions she will be destroyed.”

But Claire believes Poppy would never harm anyone.

She said: “She is a lovely dog, she’s never been agressive to anybody.

“I was shocked at how she was, how we’ve been treated.

“But it’s lovely to get her home.”

Claire hopes her case will help highlight issues with the act.

She said: “It seems crazy having such blanket restrictions. I really hope we will see changes. In so many cases it’s not the dog which is a danger, it’s the owner.”