US offer to take death row dog Stella

Stella the dog Image copyright Laura Khanlarian
Image caption Stella was kept in a 3m (9ft) by 1m (3ft) cage for nearly two years after she was seized by Devon and Cornwall Police in May 2014

US lifeline for death row dog Stella

A lifeline has been offered to death row dog Stella by an American pit bull sanctuary which has offered to fly her to the United States.

Stella was seized by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2014 and kept in a cage without exercise.

A campaign to save Stella has gained momentum with more than 20,000 signatures on combined petitions.

Police said the dog was "deemed too dangerous to walk due to her aggressive behaviour".

Nicole Bruck, from the pit bull rescue centre Animals R Family based in Connecticut said: "We will take Stella and fly her to the US at our cost. Breed specific legislation is banned in Connecticut.

"Breed specific legislation is wrong and ineffective. In the US, pit bulls are one of the most popular dogs for family pet."

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed Stella's owner has "launched a late appeal against the destruction order against Stella" and she will "remain in kennels until the outcome of the appeal is known".

'Kept alive'

Owner Anthony Hastie had 21 days to appeal a destruction order passed by Torquay Magistrates' Court on 8 February.

Tina Wagon, from the firm Wheldon Law, is acting on behalf of Mr Hastie.

Ms Wagon said: "Plan A is that Antony would like his dog back. Plan B is for us to get some help."

Mr Hastie said: "The appeal has been lodged now. I want Stella back, but if that's not possible I just want to make sure she's kept alive."

Animals R Family states on its website: "We rescue cats and dogs who have been abused, neglected, abandoned, and provide vet care, training, food, shelter and lots of love, while finding them a loving, forever home."

Image copyright Laura Khanlarian
Image caption Devon and Cornwall Police said Stella was "deemed too dangerous to walk due to her aggressive behaviour"

A joint statement from Devon and Cornwall Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner on the forces website said "we wish to answer as many of the concerns as possible on this highly emotive issue".

Chief Superintendent Jim Nye said: "Many of you have been in contact following BBC Inside Out's story on dangerous dog Stella.

"We had to seize Stella, she is both an illegal breed and an extremely dangerous dog.

"The welfare of dogs are extremely important to us. In the past year we have seized in the region of 100 dogs, and only Stella has been assessed as too dangerous and unpredictable for kennel staff to walk.

"Stella was used on two occasions as a weapon by the owner in a threat to attack police personnel prior to being seized.

"The dog has then also attempted to bite a number of independent animal behavioural experts who tried to interact with her during their appraisals."

The statement did not say if any prosecution resulted from the alleged use of Stella as a weapon to threaten police, but Mr Hastie told the BBC he has never been arrested over the matter.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg said: "The protracted legal process is wrong both in the way it has prolonged the dog's incarceration and in the cost to the public purse.

"It has cost the public £10,000 to keep the dog in kennels. The defence was responsible for 10 of those [11] adjournments so I am satisfied that the delay cannot be laid at the door of the police.

"Following the outcome of the appeal, we will encourage the force to seek recovery of the costs involved in this case from the owner."

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