***Update: June 22, 2016***
Stella is not only getting out of her cage. She’s going to live on a 27-acre farm.
The attorneys who fought for this dog’s life shared the great news on Facebook on Wednesday, along with a photo of Stella smiling:
Enjoy your freedom, Stella. You deserve it.
*** Original story ***
For the last two years, police in the United Kingdom have kept Stella the Pit Bull locked in a small cage.
She was seized from her owner in 2014 for being a Pit Bull—a violation of the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act—and has been confined and isolated ever since, let out just twice in those two years.
Stella’s time in the cage may be coming to end—and this next stage could either go well, or very badly. At issue is whether the dog will be killed, per a recent court order, or given the opportunity to live.
Animal rescuer Nicole Bruck, founder of the nonprofit Animals R Family, is among the many who are hoping for the latter—but with a more personal interest than some of the dog’s other supporters.
Bruck is hoping Stella will be allowed to live. With her, in Connecticut.
“I said we’ll take her,” Bruck said to BarkPost.
(Really—a government website explicitly says that “Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.”)
This has cost taxpayers upwards of $14,000, said police and crime commissioner Tony Hogg (who added that he thinks the government should seek remuneration from Stella’s owner).
According to a former kennel worker Laura Khanlarian, who blew the whistle on Stella’s treatment, the dog was let out of her cage just twice during these two years. Both times were for behavioral assessments.
Which—not surprisingly, given the conditions—did not go well, according to the authorities. In a statement, police said that Stella was kept isolated and caged for safety reasons:
In the past two years, in the region of a hundred dogs have been seized by Devon and Cornwall Police. During this time Stella, an illegal breed that had to be seized, has been the only dog deemed too dangerous to walk due to her aggressive behaviour.
Stella’s owner, Antony Hastie,who says that Stella showed no signs of aggression prior to being seized, petitioned the court 11 times for his dog to be released.
He’s been unsuccessful, so far. In February, the Torquay Magistrates’ Court ordered that Stella be killed.
Now represented by a law firm specializing in saving dogs ordered to die, Hastie is appealing the execution order. Nearly 10,000 people have signed an online petition in support.
Hastie’s lawyer, Tina Wagon, told the BBC that Hastie wants badly for Stella to come home—but, even if that’s not possible, his top priority is keeping Stella alive.
“Plan A is that Antony would like his dog back. Plan B is for us to get some help,” she said.
Bruck has extended her offer to effect Plan B, and hopes it will be accepted by all relevant parties.
She doesn’t believe that Stella is dangerous. Based on the available videos, she’s impressed at how well-adjusted Stella seems, considering the long detention.
“I think it is a testament to her temperament that she has not lost her mind,” Bruck said.
Bruck is prepared to pay to bring Stella to live in Connecticut. The dog would have a fenced in yard, and lots of canine companions (Bruck has one permanent dog, and five current fosters). Perhaps Stella could even be trained as a therapy dog.
It’s a friendly place for dogs who look like Stella—Pit Bulls are so welcome in Connecticut, in fact, that three years ago the governor signed a law prohibiting communities in the state from implementing breed restrictions. (Nineteen states now have such proscriptions.)
Part of Bruck’s intention is indeed to give Stella a save haven. Part of it is political. Bruck lived in the UK for a lot of her life. She’d like to go back, but can’t, because her own Pit Bulls aren’t welcome there.
Bruck envisions that, much like Michael Vick’s dogs’ amazing second acts have helped pave the way for better laws toward Pit Bulls in the U.S., perhaps Stella living well after all this might do the same in Britain.
So she’d like Stella to thrive, and in so doing, help usher out the UK’s breed-specific legislation.
Then Bruck, and her furry family, can go home again, too.
Bo, one of Nicole Bruck’s foster dogs, shows how Stella will be treated like royalty in Connecticut.
H/T The Guardian