A DOG won a reprieve from death row after magistrates ruled it was not dangerous.
Jonjo, a pit bull-type dog, was seized by police from the Sunderland home of owner Aaron Sproat in February.
Mr Sproat feared his dog would be destroyed, but the animal will now be returned to him following nearly two hours of legal argument at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.
“The facts of the case are quite simple,” said Paul Anderson, prosecuting.
“Police received information there was a pit bull terrier being kept at an address in Sunderland.
“Officers attended and the dog was taken away for examination.
“The legal position is more complex, but for the dog to qualify as a dangerous dog under the terms of the Act, it does not have to be a pure breed pit bull, only a pit bull-type dog.”
The court heard Jonjo was assessed by a police expert using criteria supplied by the American Pit Bull Terriers Breeders’ Association.
Sproat, 28, of Edward Burdiss Street, Southwick, admitted possession of a dangerous dog.
Tony Southwick, defending, said: “There is no suggestion this dog attacked anyone, or even that anyone was frightened by it.
“Mr Sproat did not know it contravened the regulations when he got it.
“We have had the dog assessed by an expert who was unable to goad it into any misbehaviour.
“It is our case this is not a dangerous dog, and so need not be destroyed.”
Mr Southwick told the bench they need not order immediate destruction of the dog if they were satisfied it did not present a danger to the public.
“Keeping the dog means a great deal to Mr Sproat,” Mr Southwick added.
“He has been in trouble in the past, having the dog and the responsibility for it has been the making of him.”
Sproat was sentenced to an absolute discharge for the offence of possessing a dangerous dog.
The magistrates ordered Jonjo to be returned to him on condition the dog is tattooed, is always muzzled and on a lead in public, and is insured against third party risks.
Sproat must pay £80 prosecution costs.