Saved from the U.K.’s Dangerous Dog Act

March 1, 2011  

Three years after being arrested, Bruce crosses the border into safety

StubbyDog Staff Report

Bruce’s Holiday photo at Ireland’s East Galway Animal Rescue

Bruce had been held in solitary confinement for almost two years. He’d been taken from his family’s home in Northern Ireland under the U.K.’s Dangerous Dogs Act and was being held at a dog pound while the family tried to appeal his sentence: execution for the crime of being a pit bull.

Then Bruce’s plight began to reach a wider audience. Among them was Caroline Rothwell of Seattle, WA, who has relatives in Ireland and was determined to save Bruce. She started an e-mail and telephone campaign, along with social media, to persuade the authorities to spare Bruce’s life. Then she organized a candlelight vigil among dog lovers in several countries.

Even with all the publicity, though, it took the courts in Northern Ireland another year to allow Bruce to be released into the care of a sanctuary in (Southern) Ireland.

Finally, last July, two people from the East Galway Animal Rescue (EGAR) drove up to Northern Ireland to collect Bruce. Sarah Gunther of EGAR described the scene to Care2’s Megan Drake:

Aside from being drugged, apparently Northern Ireland felt it necessary to provide six Enforcement Officers to deliver Bruce to Gunther.

“I opened their van door and said hello to the poor mite and attached the lead to his collar and he came out very unsteady,” said Gunther in an e-mail to me. “All six jumped back and one hid behind my van with a catchpole. I told him there was no need for this contraption and led Bruce across the yard to my van. He clambered into my van and collapsed in the crate.”

To comply with the law, Gunther had to muzzle Bruce while driving through Northern Ireland. She was also given an escort out of Belfast and was forced to sign a document she would not stop in Northern Ireland. “It felt like I was transporting Hannibal Lecter,” she said.

Bruce with Sarah Gunther

A few months later, Sarah wrote to Megan: “Bruce… passed all assessments with flying colors and is now fully trained as well. He learned Down, Stay, Heel, Into Bed, Here, Look at Me and is 100 percent housetrained. He is also bombproof with cats and other dogs, horses, cows and donkeys. He is taking commands from my 6-year-old and takes treats very gently.”

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8 Responses to “Saved from the U.K.’s Dangerous Dog Act”
  1. Char says:

    I wish I could thank everyone that was involved with this effort and thanfully it worked and Bruce is safe.
    As the owner of 2 pits I know how they are misunderstood.

  2. tracey scott says:

    he looks a handsome chap. i am so pleased he is safe and h as a new home. have read the story about lennox in northern ireland and hope he is saved too.

  3. K. Gould says:

    I am so happy that Bruce is being cared for! I signed the petition long ago.

    • StubbyDog says:

      Thanks for your comments, we too are glad about Bruce, and hope there are more happy endings like his in the futures of other pit bulls.

  4. DeniseEllisRogers says:

    This is wonderful, I too, signed the petition to free Bruce, now if only something could be done for Lennox..who was recently determined by the judge in N. Ireland to be PTS.

  5. StubbyDog says:

    Bruce’s story is inspiring and we hope Lennox too will have a good outcome. Here’s a link to help Lennox:

    Thanks for your comments.