Blackpool dog owner wins court battle after German Shepherd “unfairly” branded a menace and muzzled

A German Shepherd who was “unfairly” branded a menace and muzzled by Blackpool Council has won back her freedom.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 9:06 am
Updated Monday, 16th March 2020, 9:08 am

Woman fights order given against dog ‘in error’

Court battle to clear their pet’s name

Dog owner Gail Holroyd, 60, of Pedders Lane, was slapped with a community protection notice ordering her to keep her four-year-old pet, Luna, muzzled and on a lead at all times.

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Gail Holroyd with Luna

It followed a series of complaints of dogs being out of control in the resort’s Watson Road park – but her legal team said the council had got the wrong dog.

The 60-year-old appealed to Blackpool Magistrates’ Court after being served with the order, which could have seen her jailed for up to five years if she breached it.

Parry and Welch Solictors, who represented Gail, said the council’s evidence showed the subject of the complaints was another person “of dissimilar appearance”. After hearing the team’s argument, the council agreed to the appeal and to refund their client’s legal costs, the firm said.

Grandmother-of-two Gail said: “We are very, very relieved and over the moon for Luna, because she’s now under no restrictions whatsoever. The protection notice said she couldn’t be off-lead or unmuzzled anywhere, not just here but anywhere in the country, and any dog with me had to be leaded at all times as well, so it made aspects of our lives very difficult.

“We have got normality back and Luna is allowed to be a dog again.

“I was lucky. I could afford to contest this notice, others can’t. I know of other people who have been given notices who just have to give in and that’s not fair.

“The way in which these notices are issued should be the subject of much greater scrutiny. If the council had gathered their evidence before considering whether to issue a notice, I would not have been put through the battle I have had to fight”.

James Parry, a solicitor and partner with Parry and Welch Solicitors, said: “Community protection notices were not intended to regulate the behaviour of dogs, just humans.

“These notices can be issued without any judicial oversight by junior council officials and can turn otherwise lawful behaviour, such as walking a dog, into a criminal act carrying a penalty of five years imprisonment.

“They put too much power into inexperienced and unaccountable hands by making council enforcement officers law makers”.

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “In this particular case the council received documentation from the appellant which informed the council in respect of action taken by the appellant.

“Therefore, on this occasion, the council took the view to allow the appeal.”