'Death Row' dog Stella freed and gets new owner

Stella the dog Image copyright Laura Khanlarian
Image caption The pit bull-type dog was seized by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2014 as she was considered potentially dangerous

A dog seized by police and refused exercise for nearly two years has been freed from a death sentence and adopted by a kennel owner.

Stella, a pitbull-type dog, was seized in 2014 and a destruction order was passed by a court in February.

But earlier, Exeter Crown Court granted Stella a reprieve.

Her new owner Carolyne Pharaoh took her on after Stella's previous owner Antony Hastie agreed to transfer ownership.

Police had seized the dog because of its breed, its behaviour when officers seized the dog, and subsequent behavioural assessments.

Image caption Stella's new owner says she ensures the dog is exercised away from other dogs but that there have been "no incidents"

Ms Pharaoh told the court: "I have formed a real bond with Stella. I'm very fond of her, my family are very fond of her. I feel we can give her a good quality of life."

The court heard how Ms Pharaoh has converted a stable to a dog room and has given Stella access to a yard and a securely fenced field.

'Eternally grateful'

Judge Graham Cottle, sitting with two magistrates, issued Stella with a contingent destruction order.

Judge Cottle said: "We have to be sure Stella doesn't pose a risk to public safety. Carolyne Pharaoh said she will take ownership of the dog and apply for an exemption certificate.

"It's clear she is very willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure Stella is not a risk to public safety", he told the court.

Image caption Police said they supported the court's decision "due to the suitability of the new keeper to look after and rehabilitate" Stella
Image caption Stella the dog was granted a reprieve by Exeter Crown Court

Mr Hastie, cried and hugged Ms Pharaoh, whom he said he was "eternally grateful" to.

"I'm made up that she [Stella] is going to be free," he said.

"It's broken my heart for the last two and a half years."

Devon and Cornwall Police said they supported the court's decision "due to the suitability of the new keeper to look after and rehabilitate Stella."

"Devon and Cornwall Police has on a number of occasions shared its concerns at the lengthy delay to cases, caused by legislation, the court system and on occasions the unfit owners surrounding the issue of dangerous dogs," a spokesman said.

"The force has already put forward a report to the Defra Select Committee inquiry into the welfare of seized domestic animals."

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