A CONVICTED drug dealer who admitted having an illegal American pit bull terrier has escaped a ban on keeping animals.
Animal welfare officers and members of the public yesterday criticised the decision, particularly as the banned dog was found to have injuries consistent with being involved in fighting.
Neighbours of Colin Boyle in the Borders town of Peebles were alarmed about the dangerous combination of his drug record and owning a dog which could inflict terrible injuries and even kill.
Boyle’s dog was the same type that mauled to death five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson in a house in St Helen’s, Merseyside, on New Year’s Day 2007.
The offence came to light last December when Boyle, of Northgate, Peebles, was jailed for nine months for drug dealing and a friend he had given the dog to handed it in to the police, saying he could not cope with the animal. It was put into the custody of the Scottish SPCA and held in kennels for six months pending Boyle’s court case.
At Selkirk Sheriff Court, Boyle, 43, pleaded guilty to possessing an illegal dog and was ordered to pay £1750 compensation to the Scottish SPCA for kennel costs.
The court also ordered that the pit bull terrier, banned in Britain since 1991, be humanely destroyed.
But charges of keeping an animal for fighting and failing to provide for its health and welfare were dropped by the Crown after plea-bargaining.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are disappointed a ban on keeping animals was not given in this case. This dog should never have been bred or purchased in the first place.”
A neighbour of Boyle’s said: “It’s astonishing that he has not been banned from keeping animals. He is a total menace.”