A chow-chow puppy who was seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act for nipping an officer’s hand has been freed after thousands of animal lovers had demanded the pet’s release.
Bungle, a 16-week-old puppy from Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire, had faced up to nine months in custody after biting a policeman who was trying to restrain it on a busy road.
The dog’s owners and supporters slammed police, calling the warden’s actions ‘callous’ and ‘heavy-handed’, and saying the pet was ‘fretting and very scared’ while it was caged.
Tonight police announced Bungle had been returned to its millionaire owners subject to a control order.
Bungle’s supporters declared victory tonight after the dog was freed, although police said the decision had not been influenced by media coverage
The dog, seen in a video happily playing with brother Mister Chow, was dragged from beneath a lorry where it was cowering after escaping from its home.
Bungle, who was bought by the Hayes family for £2,000, escaped from the driveway of the family’s £2million property last Saturday before the electric gates could shut.
The dog then twice bit a police officer who tried to grab him, but his owners believe he reacted that way out of sheer fright.
Thousands of people joined an online campaign to free Bungle, as the case of the imprisoned dog drew national attention.
Supporters slammed ‘callous and heavy-handed’ police and wardens, while momentum gathered behind a petition to ‘return the imprisoned pup to his family.’
Northamptonshire Police said in a statement: ‘A Chow dog that was seized by officers under the Dangerous Dogs Act, after biting an officer twice has been returned to its owners who have agreed to a Voluntary Control Order and have been cooperative throughout.
‘A specialist dog handler met with the family this evening and having assessed the conditions and obtained agreement on the VCO, established that the dog could be returned.
‘It is the responsibility of all dog owners to ensure their pets are under control and don’t present a danger to the wider public at any time.’
Twitter users tonight celebrated Bungle’s release after thousands of people had demanded the dog’s freedom
Chow-chow puppy Bungle is seen in a video playing with his brother Mr Chow in happier times
Chief Superintendent Chris Hillery defended the officer’s actions and said the decision to free the dog was not influenced by media coverage.
He said: ‘We understand that the actions taken on this occasion have generated significant public opinion on the proportionality of the officer’s actions.
‘To be absolutely clear I fully support the officers’ actions in this case, the dog was unattended in a live carriageway and was aggressive to those present resulting in the officer being bitten and receiving injuries that required hospital attention.
‘The potential risk posed by the dog at that time is not diminished by its age or that it was frightened.
‘Having already bitten the officer twice, causing puncture wounds and bruising, it would have been negligent to release a dog displaying such obvious aggression without first ensuring both the dog’s and the wider public’s safety.
‘In no way was this decision impacted by the media reporting. Having gone through a proportionate investigation and risk assessment, the dog has been returned with appropriate conditions to manage any future risk.
‘Finally, I can report the officer who was bitten is recovering well.’
Animal lovers raged over the treatment of the 16-week-old puppy from Northamptonshire
Experts warned the puppy was likely to have been ‘frightened and teething’ and said time away from his family in kennels could permanently affect his temperament.
But police defended their decision, maintaining the public reaction would have been different if the dog had bitten a child or caused an accident when the officer tried to restrain it on a busy road.
Social media users hit out at police, claiming, ‘taxpayers’ money is being used to lock Bungle up’ and arguing ‘humans get less for worse offences.’
David Hayes, the dog’s owner, said his son Joseph had broken down at school and had to be taken out of lessons when he heard the pet had gone.
Mr Hayes wrote in the Bungle Facebook group: ‘We are massively regretful that Bungle was able to sneak out of our gates, and especially that a police officer was injured while on duty and trying to resolve the situation.
‘We feel hugely comforted though that it is not just us that feels the outcome of this accident is grossly draconian and disproportionate.’
The four-month-old dog, named Bungle, pictured, could face up to nine months in custody after it was seized by police in Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire, last Saturday
There is an outpouring of anger on social media today as people call on police to free Bungle
Bungle was found cowering beneath a truck on the A508 after running form his home
‘We are, as ever, respectful of the police doing their job and understand that, given very sad and unacceptable outcomes of some prior dog attack cases, the treatment of any incident needs to be taken seriously.
Thousands of people have joined a Facebook campaign to free Bungle the dog
‘However, the inflexibility of this ‘zero tolerance’ stance seems poorly thought through.
‘Keeping a young puppy, that has not done anything unexpected or unacceptable in the circumstances, from a 15-year-old boy over Christmas seems callous.’
The family’s gardener today said Bungle has been moved to another kennel, adding police ‘will not give the address to the family’.
More than 2,500 supporters have joined a Facebook group calling for Bungle’s immediate release.
Mr Hayes and his wife Susan, who are said to be millionaire bankers, have appointed lawyers to look into the matter, The Sun reported.
One neighbour who wanted to remain anonymous said today: ‘It’s absolutely horrible. It’s totally been blown out of proportion. The police should be worrying about more important things.
Bungle, pictured relaxing left and in the arms of owner Susan Hayes, right, was locked up under the Dangerous Dogs Act after biting a police officer
A response from a police chief inspector said the dog had been holding up traffic when the officer tried to catch it but was bitten on the dog and arm
‘[Bungle] is a cute little thing, when you see it you just want to pick it and give a big cuddle.
‘They’ve got electric gates and I guess when it was opened, the dog saw an opportunity and ran.
‘He was found later under a van and was scared – so had a little nip at the officer – but I’ve heard it wasn’t serious.
‘It’s upsetting knowing that the family could be without their dog on Christmas – that’s the time when you most feel it.
‘I’ve not heard anything about when they are going to get it back. But keeping the poor thing locked away can’t be good.
Bungle was taken to Forest Lodge Kennels in Northampton on Saturday by police
Forest Lodge Kennels, where Bungle was temporarily kept following the incident
‘It will affect the dog in terribly in the long-term. I hope it will be over turned soon and bungle can come back to his home.’
Bungle was taken to Forest Lodge Kennels in Northampton on Saturday by police.
Owner Barbra Austin said they looked after Bungle for three days before he was moved on, adding he ‘grumbled a few times because he’s young and was in an environment he didn’t know.’
She said: ‘We don’t know where he’s gone now. He came in to us on Saturday afternoon.
‘We got a phone call from the police to say they were bringing a dog in. They brought the dog in, we held him.
‘The owner phone up prior and asked if we had Bungle and we told them yes we do. I told them we can’t release him because he came in through the police.
Thousands have taken to Twitter and Facebook calling for Bungle’s release
‘I tried to get ahold of one of the officers but they weren’t working over the weekend. The owners phone again on the Sunday and asked if they could see him, I said no unfortunately.
‘The police came up on the Sunday morning and brought his food up. He was ok, no problem – he was eating and drinking just fine.
‘Then we were told he was being moved on the Monday morning – but we weren’t told where too.
‘All I know was that an officer was bitten and was badly bruised on there arm.
‘The officer was out on another job by the A508 and noticed traffic was being held up. He had a look and saw that the dog was under lorry.
‘We are only a holding kennel and we don’t have dog wardens anymore. They pick them up, bring them and a couple of days later they get moved on.’
In correspondence with police shared in the group, a local councillor said the ‘unbelievably heavy-handed’ action taken by the dog warden had left the animal ‘fretting and very scared’.
David Hayes, the dog’s owner, said his son Joseph had broken down at school and had to be taken out of lessons when he heard the pet had gone
A response from a police chief inspector said the dog had been holding up traffic when the officer tried to catch it but was bitten on the dog and arm.
The chief inspector said the dog was being investigated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
They said: ‘The officer was not seriously hurt but attended hospital for precautionary checks, antibiotics and tetanus vaccination.
‘Public safety is the priority concern in such situations: the owner was not present and the officers deemed that there was continued risk, both to the safety of the dog and members of the public who were present at the time.
‘I am sure we would have had significantly more public anger had the dog bitten a child rather than a police officer or if it had caused a serious accident on a busy road’.
A poster shared on the Facebook page dedicated to freeing Bungle from police custody. More than 2,500 people have joined the online group
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: ‘Many dogs find being kennelled and away from their families challenging. For young dogs this is especially difficult as they can be exposed to events which can have long-term, negative effects on their behaviour.
‘In investigating this case, the circumstances under which Bungle bit and the reasons why dogs use aggression need to be taken into consideration.
‘Reports describe Bungle as being frightened at the time he was found and just because he bit on this occasion does not mean he is an aggressive dog.
‘We hope that, as happens in other cases, he can be returned to his owners pending any decision.
‘In the meantime, we hope that the police will do all they can to ensure Bungle’s needs are met for the duration of his seizure. The RSPCA has produced a set of guidelines to help ensure dogs’ welfare needs are met during kennelling.’