Man found with potentially dangerous Dogo Argentino dogs fights to save 'pets'
A DOG owner who was found with 10 potentially-dangerous dogs of a notorious breed at his Grimsby home has blamed people for "making them fight".
Barry Gould, 56, of Chelmsford Avenue, told Grimsby Magistrates' Court it was not the dogs' fault that some ferocious breeds have a reputation for fighting – and said authorities should "punish the deed, not the breed".
He admitted he knew that his dogs – banned Dogo Argentinos – were not allowed in this country but insisted that they were "not nasty"and had never attacked anyone.
Although there was no evidence he had bred them for fighting, Gould deliberately kept them in defiance of a national ban and had been breeding from them, the court heard.
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He admitted breeding from fighting dogs between August 1 and 31 and possessing four adult Dogo Argentinos and six puppies on November 2.
Eight of the dogs, including all the puppies, have already been destroyed. The magistrates ordered that the two remaining dogs be destroyed – but Gould intends to appeal to Grimsby Crown Court to keep them.
John Owston, prosecuting, told magistrates that the breed – a large hunting dog – was banned in Britain under the Dangerous Dogs Act unless an exemption was granted.
The dogs were very rare in this country but police found the 10 owned by Gould after executing a warrant at his home, as reported.
In a kennel complex were two adult males, two adult females and six puppies. The ears of two of the dogs had been cropped, making the ears stand up more and look more aggressive.
"There is no evidence whatsoever that the defendant has been using the dogs for any fighting purposes," said Mr Owston.
"The dogs were not aggressive when taken away by the police and there had been no reports of problems with them later."
Abdul Shakoor, mitigating, said Gould was a dog lover and they were his passion and hobby.
He had owned dogs of different breeds for about 40 years and became interested in Dogo Argentinos after reading about them and being given a leaflet by a friend about how to get them.
He collected them from Kent and looked after them well, keeping them safely behind locked doors and a 6ft wall surrounding the kennels.
Gould admitted he knew the dogs were banned and said that he had taken them out in public, including taking one for a walk in a quiet area in Swallow.
"He has been looking after these dogs effectively as family pets," said Mr Shakoor. "He has cared for them as a loving and caring owner would do."
None of the dogs had shown any aggression and there had been no need for any of them to be subdued before the police took them away.
Unemployed Gould, a widower who has three daughters and six grandchildren, was given 120 hours' unpaid work, was banned from keeping dogs for two years and was ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and £600 towards police kennelling costs.
Presiding magistrate James O'Nions said Gould seemed to have been "doing a decent job" in providing a safe and healthy environment for his dogs but they were "the wrong dog".
Gould had "full knowledge" of the ban on this breed of dog but "embarked on a structured breeding programme" which he should not have done, said Mr O'Nions.
Outside court, Gould said he believed the key factor should be the behaviour of the dog that counted, not the breed itself.
"It should be deed, not breed," he said. "Basically, I have got the wrong shape of dogs.
"They have been absolutely fantastic. They are not nasty or aggressive. It's people who make dogs fight – not the dogs."
After the hearing, police spokesman Sergeant Martin Hopper said: "This is a unique case. This is the first seizure of this breed in the Humberside Police area and, nationally, very few dogs of this breed are registered.
"Mr Gould has assisted the police throughout the investigation from the day of his arrest to attending court.
"The dogs were all healthy and fine examples of the breed. Mr Gould is clearly a dog lover and has taken good care of his dogs.
"But, ultimately, they are a banned breed and he kept them knowing that.
"The court's decision to have the two remaining dogs destroyed reflects its concerns about the breed.
"While Mr Gould appears to be an appropriate, responsible owner, the breed is banned for a reason."
FACTFILE on the Dogo Argentino:
A large, white, muscular and strong dog, bred for hunting boar in its native Argentina and also known as the Argentine Mastiff.
It is said to look like the American Pit Bull terrier.
It is one of four banned breeds of dog in Britain. It is an offence to possess them, breed from them or sell them.
The other three types of banned dog are: Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro and the Pit Bull.
To own a Dogo Argentino in this country, strict conditions have to be met when applying for an exemption.
These include having it tattooed, neutered, micro chipped, being muzzled and on a lead, and the owner having third-party liability insurance.