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Pitbull who survived dangerous dog case passes away at 13

Bishop's owner will carry on campaigning in her pet's memory

01 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot


A PITBULL-style dog has died of natural causes, 11 years after its owners took legal action to save it from being put down.

The dog, called Bishop, was featured in the New Journal after he was seized during a 2008 police crackdown on “pitbull-type” dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act. A campaign was launched in Camden Town to save the dog and, after nine months in kennels and a two-day magistrates’ court hearing, he was released with muzzle conditions.

Owner Sarah Goss, who lives in West Hampstead, said this week she would continue to campaign against the destruction of dogs.

She added: “Bishop is finally free from old age and legislation. My boy made it to a nice age of 13-and-a-half and died not as a result of hurting anyone, but severe arthritis and kidney failure. He is the evidence that it’s the owners not the breed. I wanted everyone to know that Bishop lived a very happy, calm and peaceful life. He could have been killed if we hadn’t fought for him back then, just because he looked a certain way.”

Sarah Goss with Bishop

Breed-specific legislation was introduced 26 years ago as part of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to restrict the ownership of certain types of dogs deemed to be dangerous to people. Ms Goss said the legislation was unnecessarily “costing millions to enforce”, adding: “In particular, the law prohibits rehoming of a banned type unless the owner has died or is seriously ill. “This means stray dogs that cannot stay with their owners for any other reason may be killed.”

In 2008, the New Journal ran stories about the outcry over Bishop and how he had saved Ms Goss’s partner from a chip pan fire. The dog was ordered to wear a muzzle and stamped with a “tattoo” on his leg marking him out as an “exempted dog”.

Flashback to 2008

The legal bill for the public purse for the case was more than £6,000. Dogs are classed as “pitbull-type” if they meet certain measurements of the jawbone, head and body.

In Bishop’s case, police argued his “well-developed jaw” and muscular shoulders indicated he had been bred for fighting as a dangerous animal. The RSPCA said that “while some dogs will return home to be kept under strict conditions, many have to be euthanised because of the way they look”. The charity is campaigning to repeal Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act. A petition has so far been signed by more than 95,000 people.


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