[Above: Archie must be muzzled in a public place. He loves going for walks with his friend Ella. Ella doesn't have to wear a muzzle, even though Archie is the one of the two of them who has proved he is well-behaved in the courts.]
Jo-Rosie says that this means court cases can be long and drawn out with arguments over tiny details: “I’ve been in court before where we’ve spent over an hour arguing over one measurement.
"Think about how ridiculous that is; we’re basically saying the dog is dangerous if the circumference of one part of his leg is over 5.7 millimetres, and if it isn’t, then he’s not dangerous. That’s what it came down to in that case. And when you look at that part of a dog’s leg, you realise that there’s a lot of give, so when you’re putting a tape measure around it you can make it pretty much whatever you want it to be.”
Living within the law
Dogs who prove to the court that they are not a danger to the public are added to the Index of Exempted Dogs. They are allowed to return home under certain conditions, including that they are neutered, kept on a lead and muzzled in a public place.
They must wear a muzzle even when travelling in a car, as this counts as a public place.
Owners must keep the local authority up to date with where they live at all times. When Jo-Rosie moved house recently, she had a visit from the dog legislation officer with 30 minutes of letting them know she had moved.
Although Archie had already passed the court behavioural assessment and his owner had kept up to date with all the paperwork, his measurements were taken again.
For a dog who has just moved to a new environment, to have a stranger come into your personal space can be a bit much. But Archie is a soppy thing, and he’s used to it by now.
“On a logistical basis for a normal person with an illegal type as a pet, it’s incredibly difficult,” says Jo-Rosie.
Archie must also be insured for public liability under the terms of his exemption. Failure to keep up with this could lead to him being euthanised. This costs ￡25 a year, and just two insurance companies in the country offer it. It is impossible for illegal types to get health insurance – no UK pet insurance company will insure them – leading to hefty bills if your pitbull type becomes sick.