A 22-year-old man denied being the owner of a dangerous dog which was shot by police.
The Caucasian shepherd was destroyed after being left tied to a pole on open ground near Mainsforth Terrace, Hartlepool.
The destruction of the dog caused a public outcry with tens of thousands of people signing a petition calling for ‘justice’ for the animal.
Cleveland Police defended their decision to destroy the dog, saying it was ‘unapproachable’ at the time.
Officers later charged Suleman Halane with being the owner or being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control on January 21.
Halane, of Baden Street, Hartlepool, pleaded not guilty to the charge during a short preliminary hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.
John Relton, defending, said Halane denies owning or being in charge of the dog.
“That is the issue in the case,” said Mr Relton.
“It is no part of our case whether the dog was dangerous or not.”
Mr Relton said he would be calling three witnesses to show the dog was not owned by Halane.
District Judge Kristina Harrison fixed a trial date of May 18 at 10am.
Halane, who was brought to and from court by two Cleveland police officers, was released on unconditional bail.
It comes as campaigners are to stage a protest at the weekend as they renew calls for a public inquiry into why a dog was shot dead.
Many in the town were left upset after the Caucasian shepherd dog, which was given the name Angel.
Dozens attended a vigil just days after and laid candles, flowers and lights.
There were calls from many of those present for an independent investigation into the case as people said the animal did not have to be killed.
An online petition seeking justice for the dog was signed more than 92,000 times.
Cleveland Police defended their decision, saying at the time that they had worked together with a number of veterinary professionals, the RSPCA and a re-homing charity throughout.
They said this led to the decision to destroy the dog, saying it was extremely aggressive and unapproachable.
A protest, organised by the Justice for Angel group, is due to take place at 2pm on Sunday in Mainsforth Terrace. Organisers invited town MP Mr Hill, the council, Cleveland Police chief constable Mike Veal, Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger and the RSPCA, to attend.