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Police intervene as man tries to reclaim cruelty case dog

Police were called to the SPCA when a man who had been accused of dog cruelty “stormed into the dog kennels” in a bid to take the animal back.

Kurt Dowling was cleared in court on February 27 of neglecting Venom the pit bull, who was found by the SPCA starving to death and badly injured.

Mr Dowling turned up this week to claim Venom back from the SPCA but the charity refused, and a confrontation ensued.

According to the SPCA, Mr Dowling was responsible for the suffering of the animal who was found tethered to a heavy chain in a Warwick yard, severely emaciated and covered in bite marks. He denied it.

Clearing Mr Dowling of the allegation following a trial, Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said there had been no proper investigation to establish who was legally responsible for the cruelty.

Venom, who is around 12 years old, had been unlicensed and subject to complaints about neglect by members of the public for months before Government animal wardens seized him in January 2011.

Mr Dowling was allowed by wardens to obtain a licence for Venom just hours after the sick dog had been seized. The SPCA got a court warrant giving them permission to keep Venom at their Paget kennels while the investigation into the neglect allegations was ongoing.

A vet who examined him said his injuries suggested he had been involved in fights.

Following the court case, Mr Dowling, 30, of Farm Lane, Warwick, said he wanted the pit bull back. However, the SPCA criticised the Government wardens for allegedly failing to do their jobs properly and said they did not want the dog relicensed to Mr Dowling.

The charity approached Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Derrick Binns with their concerns and met with him last Friday. Four days later, Mr Dowling turned up at the SPCA’s Paget kennels, and the police ended up being called.

In a statement issued yesterday, the SPCA said: “On March 2 the SPCA President, Allison MacIntyre, and the SPCA Shelter Chairman, Dr Andrew Madeiros, met with the Permanent Secretary of the Environment, Dr Derrick Binns, to discuss the licensing issues regarding Venom.

“Upon conclusion of this meeting and until yesterday, the SPCA was not aware of Venom’s licensing status. On March 6 at approximately noon, Mr Kurt Dowling entered the Bermuda SPCA reception. He produced a dog licence renewal document issued by the Animal Warden Department that was dated March 1, 2012. He stated he was Venom’s owner and was here at the SPCA to collect his dog. He was told by Animal Welfare Officer Debbie Masters that the SPCA was not turning Venom over to anyone.

“At this point, Mr Dowling proceeded to storm through the reception area and into the back dog kennels. He went straight down to Venom’s run and tried to access the dog. Inspector Glyn Roberts was there and advised Mr Dowling that the SPCA was not turning the dog over to him and he was asked to leave the premises.

“The police had been called to the scene and when they arrived they advised Mr Dowling that Venom would not be turned over to him and he was to leave the premises, which he eventually did.”

The statement concluded: “The SPCA has possession of Venom and is not going to release him unless ordered by the court.”

They were taking legal advice over the matter yesterday. However, Mr Dowling’s lawyer, Eugene Johnston, said he has been instructed to pursue legal action against the SPCA to get Venom back.

Mr Tokunbo had refused to make any ruling on Venom’s future ownership at the end of the trial, saying the parties involved would have to resolve the issue between themselves.

Invited to respond to the SPCA statement, Mr Johnston replied simply: “So be it.”

Staying put: SPCA animal welfare officer Debbie Masters with Venom, the pit bull she refused to hand back to a man who had been accused of cruelty to him.

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Published March 09, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated March 09, 2012 at 8:34 am)

Police intervene as man tries to reclaim cruelty case dog

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