Edinburgh campaigners fight to save dog from death sentence

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JBpitbull02By Oliver Farrimond

A DOOMED pooch is facing a death sentence unless campaigners in Edinburgh can find enough signatures to save him.

Craig Cunningham, from Leith, bought 12-week-old pup Leo thinking he was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier mongrel – but later found out that he was a actually a banned breed.

Now four-year-old Leo, who was confirmed by DNA tests as an American Pit Bull Terrier, has been taken by police and is waiting for an Edinburgh court to decide his fate.

More than 1,500 people have so far signed the petition urging the police to free Leo, who was seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

American Pit Bull Terriers are one of four breeds of dog banned under UK law after a number of attacks on humans – but Mr Cunningham insists that Leo is a “beautiful dog”.

Mr Cunningham, 33, said: “I cannot count the number of times I have been stopped by people, including the police, to be told he is a beautiful dog.

“My house is totally empty without him, I live alone so he is really my only companion.

“I feel really numb about the whole thing -this is like losing a son to me.”

He added: “I have no idea where Leo has been taken.”

Friends and neighbours of Mr Cunningham assert that Leo is popular with children in the neighbourhood, who sometimes ride on his back.

Plight

As well as distributing petitions across Leith, campaigners had given out T-shirts to raise awareness of the dog’s plight.

Craig said: “I’ve been told that if you have between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures on a petition, the courts are much more likely to take it seriously.

“He can do all sorts of tricks – he can open doors, turn lights on and off, and even tell the difference between a Twix, a Snickers and a Crunchie.

“He’s very much a local celebrity around here.”

The campaign to save Leo has even gone online, with distraught locals leaving heartfelt messages on a “Save Our Leo” group on Facebook.

One message reads: “I love this dog, he would not hurt anyone – please help us save Leo.”

Another says: “He is such an amazing dog and despite being bigger than me, he is extremely gentle and very well trained.

“Please show your support and save Leo!”

“Unfortunate”

Mike Flynn, Chief Superintendent of the SSPCA, said that the case was “unfortunate”.

He said: “Anyone purchasing a pup from anywhere other than a registered breeder does so in the knowledge that their animal could be of undetermined breed.

“In the vast majority of cases this is of no consequence, however, it is very unfortunate when someone buys what they believe is a staffy-type puppy and it grows into a breed classed as dangerous under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.JBpitbull06

“We believe that any dog, regardless of its breed, can be aggressive if it is trained or encouraged to display this sort of behaviour by its owner.”

A court spokesperson said that Leo would be kept alive until a decision was made next month.

And a spokesperson for the procurator fiscal confirmed that as well as confiscating Leo, Mr Cunningham himself had been charged under the Dangerous Dogs Act, which can result in a £5,000 fine or six months in prison, or both.

Mr Cunningham added: “I feel that this is a race against time now, but the dog has done nothing wrong at all.

“I have every sympathy for families who have been affected by breeds like this, but it’s all about how a dog is brought up.

Neutered

“I have trained my dog and he knows I am in charge.

“I always have him on a lead and always use a muzzle, all as precautions.”

American Pit Bull Terriers have been illegal since the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, which also bans the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro.

It is illegal for anyone in the UK to own one of these breeds, unless specifically granted permission by courts.

Even then, a strict series of guidelines must be followed, including having the dog insured, registered and neutered.

See more of our pictures at our Flickr site and videos at our dedicated channel,  Deadline TV.

24 COMMENTS

    • I agree!!! It’s so horrible! Hope he gets Leo back! They can take my pit bull when they pry her leash from my cold dead hands! I love my dog and would protect her with my life! They need to stop targeting the good dog owners and go after the irresponsible ones! Breed bans are cruel, hurt families, and these laws should be repealed!

  1. The dog should be destroyed and he should get a banning order from keeping dogs . He is either an idiot or a liar and i know what one i’d choose . There are a number of ways to determine the breed apart from Staffordshire’s , even when they are young . This dog is nothing more than a penis-extension . You can see the scenario from here , buy an American pit bull and tell everybody its a Staffy and just keep the fingers crossed that it doesnt bite anyone or have to go to a vet and be recognized for what it really is .

    I’d give him a straight six months in Saughton followed by a banning order for 5yrs . Its been well documented , over the last few years , what these horrific , pointless little dogs are capable of , so why own one ? One word – EGO ….

  2. I feel so terrible about Mr. Cunningham and Leo’s plight! I’d like to help! Are there any online petitions I could sign? I looked for the Save Our Leo group on Facebook and couldn’t find it. Can anyone give me the link or does anyone have any contact information that would be helpful so I can garner support? I’m also a pit bull owner, lover, advocate, and fighter of BSL and breed bans and want to help. I hope Craig gets him back! I garnered a lot of support for Shannon Browne, the owner of Bruce, The Staffordshire Bull Terrier on death row and hope to help this poor man as well. Any info would be appreciated!

    • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=157309196401&ref=mf

      Hey. My name is Karen and i am Craigs sister. Above is the link to facebook ‘Save Our Leo’. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Leo is one of the most obedient loving dogs you could ever hope to meet. He has got , what you would say, local celebrity status around where he lives. Akita owner, well what can i say, apart from actually meeting Leo and seeing for themselves how wonderful this dog is, i think he should be keeping his selfish uneducated thoughts to himself. My kids dad, who was, up until recently, an akita owner, had to put his dog into an akita trust group due to the territorial nature of the dog. At least if Leo ever came into contact with any other dog he would show normal signs of curiosity towards the other dog and nothing more. We have tried and tried to contact ‘Dog Whisperer’ great guy Cesar Millan to get some help with this situation too, but as of yet i dont think this has been possible. We are trying to get as much support as possible because Leo AND Craig dont deserve whats happening to them now. Thanks for any help given

  3. Akita owner what did the poor animal do that is getting you so upset?You are obviously
    well versed in the differences between a pit and a staff,Hitler and his gang used to also
    have to search for the Jews who were being passed off as Christians,they I think checked the penis and sometimes the nose would give the Jew away.
    You mention what these dogs are capable of,if you referring to their viciousness,beleive
    me us the master race humans are far more dangerous and evil than any other living creature.In the USA there are less than 20 fatal dog attacks per year(all breeds)
    Notwithstanding it would be interesting to know where you obtain these facts of what “these pointless ……….” capable of.Hope not from the garbage that is written in many newspapers.
    [email protected]

    • ” selwyn marock”

      Any responsible dog-owner worth their salt , like myself , would buy the corresponding literature to the breed they own , to ensure that the owner can , and does , know as much as possible about their dog and its requirements . Any such book will contain pictures of said breed . It would appear that this penis-extension chasing liar doesnt fit that bill ….
      (a) He says he is a responsible dog-owner yet he owns an illegal dangerous dog . A responsible dog-owner would have realized as soon as the dog was about 5mths old that it was not a staffrodshire , if they bothered to buy the proper books , and then reported it to the appropriate authorities and named the “breeder” . Did he ? No ! Responsible dog owner ? No ! So when he claims to be a responsible dog-owner , he is , in fact , a LIAR
      (b) If he did buy the proper dog books , and im presuming he is in possesion of 20/20 vision , he would have seen that he had a Pit Bull and not a staffy , yet it took 3 & 1/2 years to come to light . Why so long ? Hiding it from the authorities ! Responsible dog-owner ? No , and claims of such are LIES

      I dont care what he says , he knew what he was buying and managed to hide it from the authorities for nearly 4yrs . American pit bull terriers that are in the UK are here illegally and smuggled in as pups labeled as “mix-breeds” . Once here they are 99% owned by societies undesirables . Drug dealers , gangsters , money lenders and general no-gooders . Up to 90% of these dogs are bred for fighting , so if this dogs parents are fighters and their parents were fighters and so on and so on , this dog is GENETICALLY programmed to fight . Yes , it might be well behaved now but at anytime , this dog can revert to type and murder a child/dog . Ask the parents of Ellie Lawrence who was torn apart and killed by one of these “dogs” . Coincidentally , a dog that was bought to protect a family members drug-stash . Craig Cunningham has also had this child-killing breed with kids on its back . Thats what us responsible dog-owners call MORONICALLY DEVOID OF ALL COMPREHENSION .

      I know these things because there is factual evidence , by the ton , all over the internet . Google “Ellie Lawrence” . If one child has been killed by this breed , thats one child too many . Or do you think that this particular dog should be given the chance to do this to some poor toddler in Leith ? A dog and a human are different species , incase you hadnt noticed . Do you think this idiot can tell exactly what his dog is thinking about , even 5% of the time ? I own a high-energy Akita , if he and i were to bump into each other in the street , a blood-fest would ensue ……..

      His dog would react to my dogs whining and grumbling and would immediately become defensive aggresive . According to his own admission…
      “He is such an amazing dog and despite being bigger than me”
      would struggle to control his dog in this fight situation . It would either escape his grip or drag him over and a bloodbath would ensue resulting in the death or severe wounding of either dog . Most likely his . Why ? I own dogs that were bred to hunt bears and pit-bulls are NOT bears . Far from it .

      Now , re-read the potential dog fight i described and replace my dog and i , with an old lady and her high-energy Yorkie . Doesn’t bear thinking about .

      • Sorry , not Ellie llawrence” , it is Ellie Lawrenson

        One of the most high-profile dog attacks in the UK was in January 2007 when five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson was mauled to death by an illegal Pit Bull Terrier in her Merseyside family home.

        The dog was immediately destroyed by police officers who discovered the child bleeding to death.

  4. For the record in the Elly Lawrensen affair their were 2 victims the little girl and the 8 month old puppy Reuben,the owner of the dog was a convicted drug-dealer whose
    favourite passtime was dog-fighting,he had been feeding the poor animal with anabolic steroids to make it bigger and more vicious.I seem to recall the night in question,was new years eve,where the Brits enjoy lots of fireworks and just in case this poor animal was not hyped enough the owner gave it a very bad beating.
    The owner I think received a 5 pound fine.
    The Merseyside police led by an imbecile by the name of Haig then went on a witch-hunt
    murdering hundreds of family pets.If a Drunken driver was behind the wheel of lets say
    a volkswagen and ran a child over,what remedy would you like to see,all Volkswagens
    banned or the driver jailed?
    In finality Akita-owner the media must rub their hands in glee when they see people like you coming,they can feed you any bulls–t and you beleive it.
    It has been proved that DDA of 91 is a total and utter failure,the only reason it still exists is that UK politicians are just too incompetent to recall it,they are far too busy feeding their Greed.
    [email protected]

    • First of all , i doubt your IQ even gets out of double figures….

      (1) “For the record in the Elly Lawrensen affair their were 2 victims”
      (2) “favourite passtime was dog-fighting”
      (3) “make it bigger and more vicious”
      (4) “murdering hundreds of family pets”

      Lets address YOUR quotes..

      (1) Thats even worse then the ONE victim i mentioned . Not a point you would bring up if you were both pro-pitbull or intelligent
      (2) As i explained to you before but your gutter-level intelligence couldnt comprehend . Pit-bulls are illegal here . Most , if not all , are descended from fighting stock . I will repeat myself to cover your buffoonery . For the second time…..”Up to 90% of these dogs are bred for fighting , so if this dogs parents are fighters and their parents were fighters and so on and so on , this dog is GENETICALLY programmed to fight ” Do you get it yet ?
      (3) You see the mentality of the people in the UK that have these animals , that’s why they should stay illegal permenantly !
      (4) They are destroying dangerous , illegal dogs . By your reasoning , if i buy a Tarantula that HAS NOT had its venom sacs removed , it immediately isn’t dangerous because i call it a pet ??? If you think that , then you are dumber than a second coat of pant !

      “If a Drunken driver was behind the wheel of lets say
      a volkswagen and ran a child over,what remedy would you like to see,all Volkswagens
      banned or the driver jailed?”

      Listen up for a change !
      VOLKSWAGENS ARE NOT ILLEGAL
      VOLKSWAGENS ARE NOT GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED TO FIGHT
      VOLKSWAGENS ARE NOT LIVING CREATURES THAT MAKE INDEPENDENT CHOICES

      “In finality Akita-owner the media must rub their hands in glee when they see people like you coming,they can feed you any bulls–t and you believe it.

      This is the most hypocritical sentence you have managed to mis-spell ! Almost every post you make has an angry swipe at British politicians about their CORRECT decision to allow Mr Megrahi to return to Libya . If you stopped believing everything YOU read in your BIASED media , you would maybe find that a bit of research from yourself would help you discover that Mr Megrahi’s conviction was on the flimsiest of evidence . Unlike your own government who denies permitting 4 passenger aircraft to be “used as missiles ” (condoleeza rice) own their own people !! Try cleaning yo’r own closet before pointing the finger at anyone else !

      And finally ,
      “It has been proved that DDA of 91 is a total and utter failure,the only reason it still exists is that UK politicians are just too incompetent”

      If its a total failure , as you say , where is the evidence ? Pit-Bulls are illegal here and if the authorities find them the are usually destroyed immediately ! To me , thats quite a success . Long may it continue .

    • First of all , i doubt your IQ even gets out of double figures….

      (1) “For the record in the Elly Lawrensen affair their were 2 victims”
      (2) “favourite passtime was dog-fighting”
      (3) “make it bigger and more vicious”
      (4) “murdering hundreds of family pets”

      Lets address YOUR quotes..

      (1) Thats even worse then the ONE victim i mentioned . Not a point you would bring up if you were either pro-pitbull or intelligent
      (2) As i explained to you before but your gutter-level intelligence couldnt comprehend . Pit-bulls are illegal here . Most , if not all , are descended from fighting stock . I will repeat myself to cover your buffoonery . For the second time…..”Up to 90% of these dogs are bred for fighting , so if this dogs parents are fighters and their parents were fighters and so on and so on , this dog is GENETICALLY programmed to fight ” Do you get it yet ?
      (3) You see the mentality of the people in the UK that have these animals , that’s why they should stay illegal permenantly !
      (4) They are destroying dangerous , illegal dogs . By your reasoning , if i buy a Tarantula that HAS NOT had its venom sacs removed , it immediately isn’t dangerous because i call it a pet ??? If you think that , then you are dumber than a second coat of paint !

      “If a Drunken driver was behind the wheel of lets say
      a volkswagen and ran a child over,what remedy would you like to see,all Volkswagens
      banned or the driver jailed?”

      Listen up for a change !
      VOLKSWAGENS ARE NOT ILLEGAL
      VOLKSWAGENS ARE NOT GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED TO FIGHT
      VOLKSWAGENS ARE NOT LIVING CREATURES THAT MAKE INDEPENDENT CHOICES

      “In finality Akita-owner the media must rub their hands in glee when they see people like you coming,they can feed you any bulls–t and you believe it.

      This is the most hypocritical sentence you have managed to mis-spell ! Almost every post you make has an angry swipe at British politicians about their CORRECT decision to allow Mr Megrahi to return to Libya . If you stopped believing everything YOU read in your BIASED media , you would maybe find that a bit of research from yourself would help you discover that Mr Megrahi’s conviction was on the flimsiest of evidence . Unlike your own government who denies permitting 4 passenger aircraft to be “used as missiles ” (condoleeza rice) own their own people !! Try cleaning yo’r own closet before pointing the finger at anyone else !

      And finally ,
      “It has been proved that DDA of 91 is a total and utter failure,the only reason it still exists is that UK politicians are just too incompetent”

      If its a total failure , as you say , where is the evidence ? Pit-Bulls are illegal here and if the authorities find them the are usually destroyed immediately ! To me , thats quite a success . Long may it continue .

  5. I reiterate my previous statement the most vicious ,cruellest,dangerous creature on our planet is the human.This very government that is taking issue with this poor family pet,just recently released a Terrorist from their prison,this character blew up an aeroplane KILLING 250 children women and others,and why was it approved ?For Dirty Lucre MONEY.

    [email protected]

    • Abdel Baset Al Megrahi was convicted on poor quality , circumstantial evidence .
      Megrahi was released because he has terminal cancer . In the UK , we have this thing called compassion , something i know that doesn’t travel across the atlantic !

      Lets talk about the Nazi sycophants in your country that want to put a sick man in jail for 60yrs for some poor quality computer-hacking . The Pentagon and NASA’s security was so BAD that a young man , Gary McKinnon , suffering from Aspergers syndrome , could easily access computers on his quest to find some evidence of UFOs . He caused NO damage apart from NASA and the Pentagon having to examine their lax and poor quality security systems .

  6. You are 100% correct anyone that murders 250 women,children and the rest is entitled to compassion and not have to suffer in prison,and yes I agree that a little dog that has done nothing wrong deserves to die because of the way he looks,hang on I do not think
    I made this statement correctly,but let it pass.Naah let me add one rider to my comment this
    bastard that murdered 250 humans,all the dogs in the USA kill at a rate of lets say 20 per year that equates to what all breeds of dogs in the whole of the United States kill in a period of around 13 years,something does not make sense here.
    Your point that 90% of pitbulls are bred for dog-fighting lets for the moment accept,but that shows that the police-force are definitely not up to scratch,they should be addressing the problem,as with dog-fighting also follows illegal gambling,drug-dealing and much other associated crime and maybe the UK courts could punish this scum a little better.Puppy-mills and dog-fighting must be eliminated.
    Regarding my love for politicians ,I dislike most of them ,not just UK ones.I dislike 90%
    of them all equally ,as most of these creatures on the world stage are useless and ineffective.
    The only pits the UK seem to source and find are the family pets as the Merseyside
    side police did,they were far too cowardly to go after the dog-fighting fraternity.
    As far as my sourcing goes I do attempt to follow up on all fatalities created by the
    dogs of the world,fortunately there are not too many ,but in 95% of the cases,us master race humans are at fault.
    As far as your insults go,let me guess,when the UK smoking laws came out,you reported all your mates for smoking in non-smoking zones. [email protected]

  7. Well well , Mr Marock
    I honestly didn’t believe an American had the cranial capacity to even attempt “sarcasm” , however low quality that sarcasm may be . You say…….
    “You are 100% correct anyone that murders…….let it pass”

    Let me address this FACTUALLY and use your brain when you are reading the following . Laws in this country apply to everyone , without exception . He was tried for a crime , dubiously convicted for that crime and then sentenced to a lengthy jail-term . If you are terminally ill and incarcerated in the UK , you , or anyone can apply to be released on compassionate grounds . The only stipulation for your release is that you are no longer a danger to the public , which Megrahi was NOT . Recently , one of the “Great Train Robbers” , Ronald Biggs , was released on compassionate grounds with a similar condition to Megrahi . He escaped jail in the 1960’s and went on the run to Brazil , where he mocked the British Judicial system and stuck two fingers up at justice . Why are you not whining about his release ?
    Secondly , and sadly for me , im going to have to break this down as if i was standing in front of a kindergarten class . I did not say that this dog should be destroyed because of how it looks , that is an absolutely ridiculous thing to claim .
    I told you these dogs are GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED to fight ! I have no idea what a gene looks like , do you ? If your going to discuss things with the adults , try and keep it FACTUAL .

    You say – “police-force are definitely not up to scratch”
    i say – Name a country that has an “up-to-scratch” Police force ? Don’t even think about saying your own or i’ll call for a psychiatric nurse for you .

    You say – “UK courts could punish this scum”
    i say – They do . They confiscate their cash , drugs , guns and dogs . They reinvest the cash in crime-fighting (apparently) and destroy the other three . One of which you are arguing against . That puts you in the position of being a hypocrite , wanting criminals punished for having a dangerous gun , but not a dangerous dog . Both are illegal weapons !!!!

    You say – “.Puppy-mills and dog-fighting must be eliminated.”
    i say – At last , something we agree on . Do you think the standard of breeding is better in a criminals American Pit Bull terrier puppy mill or my legal and credible Kennel club registered Japanese Akita breeding program ? Who would produce a higher standard of dog ?

    Finally , a bit of advice , stop using analogies to back up your argument as they rip holes in the credibility of your statements. First of all with the Volkswagens and now this tripe……..
    let me guess,when the UK smoking laws came out,you reported all your mates for smoking in non-smoking zones.”

    Tut , tut . That is poor . I smoke , so your argument is “up in smoke” , so to speak . What you should have done , if you could accept a reality check , is….

    Guns kill kids – guns are illegal – there taken from you and destroyed – you are then jailed
    Pitbulls kill kids – pitbulls are illegal – there taken from you and destroyed = you are then jailed .

    Its not rocket science……..

  8. Akita owner… as the owner of a well known to be dangerous breed, perhaps you would like to shed some light on the number of owners killed by their akitas. It was recently a frightening trend which almost saw them banned in NZ. Hello pot, meet kettle…

      • “selwyn marock”

        Oh , i see your back , dumbass

        I see that you are still as ignorant and moronic as your previous replies would indicate . Why didnt you reply to my last response to you ? I’ll tell you why , its because my last reply made you look like an asshole .
        Observe……..

        Your quote – “as with dog-fighting also follows illegal gambling,drug-dealing and much other associated crime and maybe the UK courts could punish this scum”

        They are punishing this guy for owning an illegal , fighting-breed of dog , yet you are saying that the courts should spare its life !!!!

        Make your mind up . If you think British courts should punish these people , then they are doing the right thing by destroying the dog . A 4yr old could work it out , whats wrong with you ?

        Finally , stop making things up. You talk like a lying child . How can you possibly know whether i have akitas or whether i can tell them apart from a “Maltese poodle” . Firstly i have two Akitas and if you need proof , i’ll e-mail you directly with either a video or pictures of my dogs . Just let me know how you like your humble pie served .

        PS There is no such breed as a maltese poodle . Its a maltese terrier also known as a Bichon Maltaise and its one of the few breeds that doesnt shed its hair

    • “Skippy”

      I understand what you are saying , more than you think i would . The problem in this situation is not the fact that the breed of dog that i own , may or may not be dangerous . The problem here is that this breed , the American penis-boosting terrier , is illegal here . THEY ARE ILLEGAL ! I’m going to be generous enough to accredit you with requisite intelligence to understand that .

      The Japanese Akita Inu is not illegal here . There are four breeds of dog in the banned section of the UK dangerous dog act…
      (1) Japanese Tosa
      (2) Fila Brasilia
      (3) Dogos de Argentino
      (4) American Pit-Bull

      No Akitas there . If i had a japanese TOSA , it would be a real case of the pot calling the kettle black , but i don’t and i’m not . You are not very bright are you ?

      Since your so knowledgable about canine fatalities , maybe you will enlighten me on the total of people , adults or kids , that have been killed by an Akita . I’ve never heard of a death of a human being as a result of an akita attack , on the other hand , if you look at pit-bull records……. i rest my case .

  9. as i read every statement you all have put up it gets to me why just pitballs r being targeted im sure nt to long i read in a local news paper that a jack russel had killed a child …….
    as far as i am concerned it all depends on the training you give your dog if you train your dog to kill it will kill i have had my pitball for nearly 6 years she has been around kids,adults all her life and not so much as growled at anyone…..
    what are the goverment going to do ban every breed of dog i think not!!!!!!!!!
    Craig Cunningham i hope your dog is returned to you !!!!!!

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