Pet dog seized by police on suspicion of being a banned breed is back at his Biggleswade home

'Thank you for all the public support we have had on social media, it's been overwhelming'

By Joanna Gravett
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 2:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 2:38 pm

A puppy who was seized by police on suspicion of being a banned breed is now safe and well back home.

Owners James Gray and Julie Collen-Todd are delighted that their 11-month-old canine, Wolfy, has returned to Laburnham Road after the force raided their house last Monday.

Wolfy, who "wouldn't harm a fly" was taken away to police kennels for investigations, while family and friends voiced their distress on Facebook.

Wolfy

Julie, 42, told the Chronicle: "Thank you for all the public support we have had on social media, it's been overwhelming. People reached out who I hadn't spoken to for a long time.

"Thank you to the kennel staff for the way they looked after Wolfy.

"Please can we also say thank you to Chief Inspector Sergeant Adam Sugden, who apologised on behalf of the whole police force, and 100 per cent thank you to the charity Save Our Seized Dogs. They were amazing."

The couple claim that on Monday, January 10, 15 police officers arrived at their house along with a police dog van and a 'battering ram'.

The force spoke to Julie, who was outside trimming the hedge and "had no clue what was going on", informing her that they suspected a "dangerous dog" was at the address.

Shocked, Julie said that they could go upstairs and see James, who was in bed cuddling Wolfy.

James, 22, claimed: "I was sitting with my dog, in my boxers, and I turned and they were standing there.

"I got dressed and ready and then they came upstairs with a big metal pole - but the officer got half way, took one look at Wolfy and said, 'That's not a dangerous dog', and went to get a lead and collar."

Wolfy was taken away to police dog kennels for investigations, while the couple were left "inconsolable".

Julie said: "Wolfy was like a celebrity up this road. He's lovely, he's caring, he's just big and he doesn't realise how clumsy he is. He thinks he's a lap dog!

"Children down the road love him, and I'm a barber [working from home] and my clients will greet the dog before they greet me!

"He gets scared of his shadow and all he does is sleep and eat. He's just one of a kind.

"I wasn't blessed with children and he's my baby."

Julie says that big-hearted Wolfy was even wagging his tail when the police officers arrived, and that the only time he was scared was when he put inside the police van's cage.

In fact, they claim that the police searched the house for a second dog "because they knew that Wolfy wasn't dangerous."

Although they are overjoyed with Wolfy's return, the couple wish to raise several questions about their treatment from the force, hoping that other pet owners won't have to go through the same experience.

James alleged: "They didn't tell me at the time that it was [to do with] banned breeds [rather than his behaviour].

"I was fighting to get him back, ringing up and saying that he had never bitten anyone, and never done anything harmful."

He says the couple then discovered that Wolfy was undergoing tests to see if he was a banned breed, with James then finding the paperwork which stated that Wolfy was a Bull Mastiff Crossed with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

However, the couple say they were informed by Save Our Seized Dogs that Wolfy would still have to be measured a whopping 180 times to prove his breeding and genetics.

A Facebook post from the Biggleswade Community Policing Team included a photograph of Wolfy in the police van cage, and said he was believed to be a banned breed.

The couple were also left disappointed that there wasn't a follow-up post to say that their dog was in the clear and that he had returned home on Thursday, January 13.

James and Julie added: "Why did they send all those officers when their resources are so short? If they'd have called us, we'd have been happy to come down to the station."

The couple would like to thank CI Sergeant Adam Sugden who "had the original post changed" for them, as well as Save Our Seized Dogs, which provided them with advice and guidance.

Julie is now supporting the charity's campaigns, and believes that a dog's freedom should not be determined by its size alone.

She added: "Why do measurements determine whether or not a dog is 'dangerous'? It may confirm that a dog is a certain breed, but it's all down to behaviour - small dogs can be dangerous and bite people.

"However, I was pleased with one officers' attitude, who said: 'We don't do this job because we don't like animals and dogs. We do it to save them.' That made me feel a bit better."

A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman said: "Officers from the Biggleswade Community Policing team conducted a warrant in Biggleswade on Monday 10 January following reports of a potentially banned breed, under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

"One dog was seized for inspection and was accessed by specially trained officers before being returned safely to its owners.

"When dogs are seized, their welfare is a priority and all feeding and exercise requirements are discussed with the owner.

"Officers worked with the owners and kept them updated throughout the investigation."

Julie wants other dog owners to know that she is here to support them if they are in a similar situation. Message 'Julie Dawne' on Facebook.

You can find out more about Save Our Seized Dogs and its campaigns by visiting: https://www.saveourseizeddogs.org/campaigns