Police defend decision to destroy 'extremely aggressive and unapproachable' Hartlepool dog
Police say the decision to destroy a dog in Hartlepool was only taken after it became 'extremely aggressive and unapproachable.'
Officers responded to a report from Hartlepool Borough Council of a distressed German Shepherd tied to a pole on Mainsforth Terrace in the town at 10.07am yesterday.
Cleveland Police said that after efforts to calm the animal and trace its owner proved unsuccessful, the decision was taken to destroy it.
The move has sparked outrage on-line and more than 5,000 people have signed a petition set up to protest the police handling of the situation.
A vigil has been planned by protesters to take place in Mainsforth Terrace at 6pm on Wednesday.
Organisers say the vigil will be a 'peaceful protest' as to the authorities' handling of the incident.
Now the force has issued a further statement outlining the reasons for the decision.
"Throughout the operation police worked together with a number of veterinary professionals, the RSPCA and a re-homing charity. This led to the decision to destroy the dog, which was extremely aggressive and unapproachable," it says.
Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin defended the decision and emphasised it had been taken on expert advice: "We are always saddened by the death of an animal, but the difficult decision to destroy the dog was taken in partnership with animal welfare experts," he said.
"The decision was made at the end of a six-hour operation, after we had exhausted all other options, including attempting to trace the owner and re-homing.
"Veterinary professionals told us that, even if the dog could have been successfully sedated, they couldn’t have rehomed the dog due to its aggressive behaviour and that this was the kindest course of action.
"If the dog couldn’t be rehomed, then the likely outcome would have been that it would have been euthanised by a vet. "We also took on board advice from specially-trained officers at the scene and engaged with vets to try to attempt to resolve the issue long-term. However, sadly the only safe decision was to destroy the dog. "It was a difficult balance, we were in fear that the dog could have got loose and potentially injured someone and the dog's welfare was a serious concern whilst it was tied up. If there could have been any other alternative ending, then of course we would have taken it. "We would fully support the RSPCA in appealing for any information with regards to the owner of the dog to come forward."
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: "We were alerted to the presence of the dog and staff from our dog warden service attended the scene.
"As soon as it became apparent that the dog posed a potential danger, the matter became the responsibility of the police."
An RSPCA statement said: "This was a difficult and distressing police-led incident with an outcome which no one wanted. We attended to help the police and dog warden and sought independent vet advice to try and find a non-lethal solution.
"The dog had been seen by someone from another charity and there was concern that if the dog escaped she could have hurt someone.
"The police informed us that using a tranquiliser dart on the dog was not an option.
"The RSPCA believes that abandoning any dog is totally unacceptable and in this case had tragic consequences.
"Any information about who might have done this, please contact the Hartlepool Police, quoting log number CVP/18/011857."