Mr James Murdoch, the owner of American Bulldog – Storm, has lodged an appeal against his conviction for his doing being dangerously out of control, aggravated under s3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

The trial judge heard that on the 14th February 2023, Storm escaped from the owner’s garden and attacked another dog. The struggle lasted for around ten seconds before Mr Murdoch was able to get his dog under control. The dog and their owner sustained injuries. This offence occurred after Mr Murdoch was mad subject to a Dog Control Notice that required him to keep his dog on a lead and muzzled following an earlier attack in January 2022.

The sheriff sentenced Mr Murdoch to pay a fine of £400, to pay a compensation order of £500 and to have Storm put down. 

Mr Murdoch appealed against both his conviction and the sentence. 

Dealing first with the conviction, counsel for the appellant submitted that it was a brief attack with indirect injuries. The Crown submitted that Storm was out of control and as soon as he escaped the property he immediately attacked another dog. 

With regards sentence, counsel for the defence submitted that a destruction order was excessive, as measures had been taken to prevent Storm from escaping the appellant’s property again.

The appeal sheriff, in delivering his opinion, Sheriff Principal Dowdall’s stated, “The appellant submits that the facts and circumstances of this case were such that it could not be said that there was a reasonable apprehension that Storm would injure a person. We reject that submission. Where a dog has not injured a person before, that does not preclude reasonable apprehension that it might do so.”

“On the facts of this case, as found by the sheriff, we are satisfied that there were grounds for reasonable apprehension that Storm would injure a person and therefore that, in terms of section 3(1) of the 1991 Act, was dangerously out of control. It was not necessary for the sheriff to find that Storm had previously injured a person to establish reasonable apprehension.”

“The sheriff was entitled to hold that Storm’s attack amounted to an aggravated offence in terms of section 3(1) of the 1991 Act, to make finding in fact 13 and to convict of the aggravated offence. Having concluded that the offence was aggravated in terms of section 3(1) of the 1991 Act, the sheriff had no option but to make the order for destruction.”

The appeal against conviction and sentence was refused.