I Bruce's Story I Latest Updates I Saving Bruce Video I
I How You Can Help - Minister Contacts, Veterinary Contacts & Council I
I Northern Ireland Assembly to Contact I DARD Letter I Member of Parliament I
I North Down Council Members I Organisations to Ask for Help I The Queen I
Template Letters I Comments I In the News I On Line Poll-Please Vote! I
World-wide Candle Lit Vigil - Please Show Your Support
London Takes Part in Worldwide Candle Lit Vigil
Dog Law Confusion Uncovered - News
Vet President Speaks Out Against Law in Northern Ireland
Responses / Statements Received
Update 30th July:
Bruce has arrived safely in Eire (across the border-he was held in Northern Ireland) and is now with the animal rescue EGAR, there are photos and updates on the EGAR facebook page.
Update 29th July:
Bruce has been released and is today on his way to the East Galway Animal Rescue.
Update 2nd July:
East Galway Animal Rescue (EGAR) has said today that the court will allow Bruce to go to their sanctuary in Eire (across the border-he is currenly held in kennels in Northern Ireland) with conditions. More news to follow!
Update 30th June 2010:
A reply from North Down Council has confirmed a further legal hearing will take place on the 1st July 2010. We'll add an update when we have any information.
A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) was sent in to Northe Down Borough Council, who are responsible for the operation of the law in their area and seized Bruce in October 2007.
North Down Council seized two pit bulls in 2007, one in 2008 and two in 2009, there has been one seized in 2010 (to date). No dogs have been signed over for destruction and no dogs have died whilst in the care of the Council. Three dogs have been ordered destroyed by the courts since 2007 and the Council states that the number of dogs currently held in kennels (pit bull types) is two (one of them would be Bruce) .
The cost to the Council for kenneling these seized pit bull terriers since 2007 is given as £7065.50.
The FOI asked when was Bruce last seen by a veterinary surgeon and what the outcome of any veterinary examination was. It also asked what the current physical condition of Bruce is, the Council responded:
"The pit bull named Bruce is in the care of private kennels and I am unable to ascertain when he was last seen by a veterinary surgeon. There has been no recent need for him to be so inspected" and
"Bruce is in very good physical condition at this present time."
Meanwhile, the legal wheels continue to turn very slowly and Bruce remains held on canine death row. If you haven't already written a letter for him, please send one in to the contacts given (below on this page) to help keep his plight alive.
Update April 2010:
We sent a Freedom of Information Request to the Department of Agriculture and Rural development (DARD) in Northern Ireland in reference to the operation of the legislation, under which Bruce is held captive. The Animal Identification, Legislation and Welfare Branch responded.
Firstly we asked DARD to confirm that the courts do have discretion when sentencing and can order exemption of pit bull terrier type dogs as an alternative to destruction (do not have to order destruction of a dog) and they responded that the powers of the Courts in relation to dogs are set out in the Dogs (Northern ireland) 1983, as amended. No new news there then but DARD did confirm that;
"Exemption certificates are issued under the Dangerous Dogs Compensation and Exemption Schemes Order (Northern Ireland) 1991 and that those powers are exercised by local councils." They forwarded a copy of the 1991 Order. This information confirms from the Government what was uncovered in July 2009 - here
In reply to our question asking how many dogs have been seized as pit bull types and destroyed in 2009 and how many dogs have been exempted by Court order between 2001 and 2009 we were told that this information is not held by DARD but may be available from local Councils.
Lastly we asked where is the compulsory insurance available from? Dog owners must take out this insurance within a specific time frame in order to comply with the law when directed to do so by the Court under the Amendment. DARD responded:
"The sourcing of insurance is a matter between the dog owner and an insurance company. The Department has sent a letter to PetPlan Limited, who provides this type of cover for dogs in Britain, asking for insurance to be extended for exempted dogs here. The letter was also copied to the Association of British Insurers."
Update 12th March 2010:
A reply from North Down council concerning Bruce states that at the last hearing (9th March) the Judge only heard the evidence from their witnesses and that a further date has to be agreed for further legal argument in the case.
Update 5th March 2010:
David Brown at North Down Borough Council has confirmed in a reply concerning Bruce; 'A further appeal is due to be heard in the County Court on Tuesday 9 March 2010'.
Update 5th February 2010:
There is no new news to report. Bruce remains alive in kennels awaiting further legal action to determine his fate.
Update 20th November:
The situation remains unchanged from our last update. Meanwhile the BVA President has spoken out against BSL in Northern Ireland - details here.
Update 20th October:
Legal proceedings are ongoing, we have no date for the next court hearing as yet. Bruce remains alive and held in kennels awaiting his fate.
Update 15th September:
Another Appeal hearing is scheduled to take place-the date for this hearing is due in approximately two weeks time. Bruce remains alive and held in kennels whilst legal proceedings are ongoing.
Update 19th August:
Today it has been confirmed that the Court of Appeal hearing is set to take place on 14th September.
Update 9th August:
The legal team (for Bruce) have applied for appeal via way of case stated and there is to be a hearing on Tuesday 11th August. We are not certain of the legal details - it is thought that this hearing will be to set out the case and it may then be able to proceed to the Court of Appeal at a future hearing. If we come into any more information we will let you know.
Update 28th July:
Candle-Lit Vigils Held Across the Globe Send Clear Message:Thursday, July 23rd will remain a day to remember as thousands of people came together to participate in a unique worldwide candle lit vigil.
Update 25th July:
The worldwide candle lit vigil has been greatly supported, photographs have been collated and are now available online. Please continue to write to the contacts suggested.
Update 16th July:
Legal proceedings are ongoing. A date is awaited for a further court hearing. A lot of 'behind the scenes' activity concerning the legalities is also ongoing. Please keep sending letters-if you haven't received a reply, politely re-send your letter again and please support the candle lit vigil, anyone can take part in their own home-don't forget to take a photo and send it in.
Update 14th July 2009:
A world-wide candle lit vigil is being held for Bruce on Thursday 23rd July 2009. Everyone can take part-in your home, your town showing your support, standing united for death row dog Bruce who will on that day have been imprisoned for agonizing six hundred and seventy three days. Please Support Bruce - Details Here.
Update 10th July 2009:
NEW YORK DEMONSTRATION - NY Speaks Out Against BSL and Supports the "BRING BRUCE HOME" Campaign. Peaceful demonstration details here.
Update 3rd July 2009:
UPDATE : yesterday bruce's barrister went to the High Court for judicial review. The counsel has granted an undertaking that until every avenue of the law has been explored, Bruce will not be destroyed.
The solicitors are about to apply to the Lord Chief Justice for the case to be stated however Bruce remains held in kennels on death row.
Bruce is hanging on by a thread - Please keep up the pressure and emails!!!
2nd July 2009:
Dog lovers around the world have reacted in horror to the recent news that the high profile case of pet dog “Bruce” may finally be over as a court orders he be destroyed in a few days time ending an exhaustive twenty one month battle to save him.
Bruce was a young Staffordshire Bull Terrier living happily with his family in Northern Ireland. On September 19th 2007 Bruce was seized by council officials as an alleged “pit bull type” and taken to secluded kennels whilst his owner was taken to court for owning a banned type of dog contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.
Whilst incarcerated in kennels his family were allowed to visit their dog in October 2007, Bruce had lost weight, muscle tone and had an open cut to his muzzle.
Five months later Bruce was allowed a second visit from his family in March 2008, they were shocked with what they found: The wound on Bruce's muzzle was larger, weeping and had become infected, he tail had been amputated due to damage and infection, he had open pressure sores, was underweight and looked totally broken and rejected, yet despite the clear pain he was in, is described by experts as being a friendly dog that poses no danger to the public.
A trial was heard at Bangor Magistrates' Court on 27th August 2008 and the court determined that Bruce was “of type” despite the evidence from two expert identification witnesses who said he was not. Judgement was given two weeks later on the 12th September and Bruce was ordered destroyed devastating his family and supporters.
A legal appeal was lodged and a brief hearing on the 12th November 2008 listed the case for mention on 12th January 2009.
A further hearing in March 2009 was scheduled to set a date for the full Appeal. But, as we understand it, at this hearing the Judge gave Bruce a reprieve, as she believed Bruce does not pose a danger to the public. It was unclear how this potentially groundbreaking ruling would proceed as the Judge did not contest that Bruce had been found to be a pit bull type but decided as he posed no danger to the public he could be returned to his owner under the conditions that apply to pit bull types in England: Bruce's owner was trying to obtain third party liability insurance for him as a pit bull type in Northern Ireland. As it is illegal to have a “pit bull type” in Northern Ireland no insurance company was able to offer insurance cover.
A further court date was set for 29th June 2009 to decide how this ruling for Bruce could proceed and the Judge ordered destruction.
In a desperate attempt to save Bruce, owner Shannon Brown, supporters and neighbours have created petitions, online networking groups and videos resulting in worldwide support to “Bring Bruce Home”. Bruce remains on canine death row, removed from his family home, alone and unaware of the worldwide support he has to spare his life.
Despite being debated several times, Northern Ireland has not adopted the provisions within the1997 Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act allowing friendly pet dogs found to be unlawful by appearance, but posing no danger to the public, to be allowed to live. In England, Scotland and Wales, a dog found to be “pit bull type” by the courts can be ordered entered onto the Index of Exempted Dogs as an alternative to destruction. If the Amendment had been accepted in Northern Ireland, the court would have been able to exercise discretion as with the rest of the UK - Bruce is likely to have been home long before now, alive and well registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs.
If Bruce lived across the border in Southern Ireland where no breeds are nationally banned he would never have been seized and imprisoned at all. Bruce has been offered a place of safety with a dedicated rescue and sanctuary in Southern Ireland where he could legally live out the rest of his life; this offer has been conveyed in writing to the solicitor but has sadly not been accepted by the court.
Bruce hasn't actually ever put a paw wrong; he is sentenced to death due to the way he looks and the fact that NI has a mandatory death penalty unlike the rest of the UK who gave the courts discretion when sentencing twelve years ago.
Bruce and his family have endured much mental and physical anguish and pain solely due to a draconian law. His owner is simply a young dog owner who has been struggling for nearly two years to save her dogs life.
All that needs to be done to let a friendly dog live is for Bruce to be allowed safe passage from Northern to Southern Ireland and Bruce needs your support again during his eleventh hour.
We are asking supporters to contact the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward MP) and Ministers urging them to use compassion and discretion by granting Bruce a Pardon removing the penalty imposed – the mandatory death sentence with the provision that Bruce is moved to the rescue placement ready and waiting for him in Southern Ireland. For a nation who claims to be animal lovers this would be the expected outcome.
As the court has ordered that Bruce be destroyed someone will be expected to administer the fatal injection. Veterinary surgeons take a sworn oath and promise to safeguard the welfare of animals committed into their care. In line with this sworn promise we are calling on all veterinary professionals within the UK to take a stand and refuse to kill Bruce - a healthy, wanted animal who poses no danger to the public & has a rescue space waiting for him in Eire. Bruce’s legal owner does not give consent for Bruce to be destroyed.
Please help by contacting the relevant authorities (template letters available) – details below to add your support to “Saving Bruce”.
For Further Information – Please Contact:
Endangered Dogs Defence & Rescue
www.endangereddogs.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DDA Watch - www.ddawatch.webs.com
Please crosspost for Bruce
Urgent Plea for a Pardon/Intervention to Allow Export of Bruce to Eire:
Please keep letters polite and send to the following politicians: (Template Letter)
Northern Ireland Office, 11 Millbank, London, SW1P 4PN
Fax: 01744 24306
Urgent Plea to Refuse to Administer Fatal Injection:
Please urge veterinary surgeons not to participate in the death of Bruce (Template Letter)
Urgent Plea to Help & Support Innocent Dog Bruce:
Please keep letters polite and ask for support, comments, statement for Bruce (Template Letter)
C/o Town Hall, The Castle, Bangor, BT20 4BT
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9127 8067
The Northern Ireland Assembly-debate issues and laws etc (Template Letter)
Please email the following regarding bruce - these are the political reps for Bruce's area -
North Down Constituency has six MLAs (each constituency has six elected)
MLA = Members of the Legislative Assembly
Dard "has regard for the need of the welfare of animals" in Northern Ireland. Ask that permission be granted for Bruce to be exported to Southern Ireland and who is monitoring and has responsibility for the welfare of pet dog Bruce whilst he is held captive.
In Northern Ireland it is the Council who have the job of implementing the law, when DARD/Government review the legislation/look at issues-they consult with the Councils and take feedback from them, so if members of the council are notified of innocent dog bruce who has been held for nearly two years, the injustice/problems/immense cost/ it all helps bring awareness to the huge problems with flawed law and move it towards an issue which needs addressing by Government.
Please keep letters polite, even if you just send one line-please do keep sending them in, you may not receive a reply, don't be disheartened, you are helping to keep this issue simmering away and that is helping Bruce and others like him who have no voice but yours.
C/o Town Hall, The Castle, Bangor, BT20 4BT
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9127 8067
The Deputy Mayor-Councillor Alderman Gordon Dunne.
6 Glenview Road, Holywood BT18 0PU
Alderman Ruby Cooling - email@example.com
Cllr Harry Dunlop - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Roberta Dunlop - email@example.com
Cllr Wesley Irvine - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Stephen Farry - email@example.com
Cllr John Montogomery - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Alan Chambers - email@example.com
Alderman Leslie Cree - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Alex Easton - email@example.com
Alderman Marsden Fitzsimons - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Ian Henry - email@example.com
Cllr Austen Lennon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Alan Graham - email@example.com
Cllr Alan Leslie- firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr James Mckerrow - email@example.com
Cllr Marion Smith BA - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Anne Wilson - email@example.com
Alderman Brian Wilson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr David Alderdice - email@example.com
Alderman Ellie Mckay - firstname.lastname@example.org
USPCA Welfare Officers: Martin Dobbin & Philip Burns Tel: 07739948520.
HQ - 13 Clogharevan Road, Bessbrook, Co.Armagh BT35 7BH Fax: 028 3083 0024
RSPCA Enquiries Service, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS.
Head Office - 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ
Telephone 020 7837 0006 (9:00AM - 5:00PM, Mon to Fri
Email: Head of Communications - email@example.com
The Kennel Club, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB
Telephone: 0870 606 6750. Fax: 020 7518 1058
Fottrell House, Harolds X Bridge, Dublin 6W, Ireland
Tel: +353 (1) 4533300
Please send letters (written clearly on clean paper) supporting Bruce and asking Her Majesty to grant a Royal Pardon to save Bruce from death.
Start the letter with - Your Majesty
In the letter don't use 'you' or 'your' instead use "Your Majesty" or "Your Majesty's"
End the letter with "I have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty's humble and obedient servant" (or if you prefer "subject") or less formally - 'Yours sincerely'
Please keep letters polite, handwriting clear and don't forget to include your name and address - for your reply
Address your letter to:
Her Majesty The Queen, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom
Please go to each one separately as the contact details will differ - Thank You!
1) Urgent Please for a Pardon/Intervention to Allow Export of Bruce to Eire - Template Here
2) Urgent Plea to Refuse to Administer Fatal Injection - Template Here
4) Letter to send to the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Down (NI) -Templates Here
5) Asking other organisations to call for a reprieve for Bruce & for him to be moved to the waiting rescue space in Southern Ireland - Template Here
see also - Bruce Appeal - Letters
If you would like to leave feedback in support for Bruce, please visit here.
As of 4th July there are 254 comments on this news site alone from around the world, please keep spreading the word-thank you!
BBC News - Death row dog for Court of Appeal. 19th August '09
BBC Radio Discussion - on Bruce, Breed Bans and the Dangerous Dogs Act. 24th July '09
Internation Discrimination Case Against Ireland? - Stay of Execution Results in Spiked Global Attention for Bruce. What makes the story about one dog so special that the world stops what they're doing to talk about him and speak out? 13th July '09
The Irish News - "12,000 join global campaign to save dog court ruled is illegal pit-bull" - by Diana Rusk, 8th July '09
Bruce the dog garners world-wide support: Is Ireland listening? - Bruce the dog has a reprieve (for now) but still needs your help... please help get the word out! Tell the world Breed Specific Legislation is not okay! Philadelphia Dog Advocate Examiner, 6th July '09
Northern Ireland Shamed by Treatment of Death Row Dog, Bruce - The comments coming from around the world on the desperate plight of Bruce, a dog condemned to die by the law for no other reason that the way he looks, have brought shame to the United Kingdom for its continued use of breed specific legislation. . Ryan O'Meara, 3rd July '09
American Chronicle - Why Does Bruce Have To Die ? And why are judges so often so far from the wisdom of Solomon ? Guénady, 2nd July '09
Please vote in the online poll - 'Should Bruce be free?'
The organisers will send the results to the various MPs.
The poll is on the left-hand side of the menu at Your Dog
Lots of votes needed!
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