Church Lawford woman in court after entering kennels without permission to retrieve seized dog

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A Church Lawford woman has appeared in court after she entered Dunsmore Kennels without permission to take her dog - which had previously been seized after being found wandering in a street.

Samantha Lambeth, of School Street, appeared at Nuneaton's Warwickshire Justice Centre on Tuesday, August 28, where she pleaded guilty to breaching Rugby Borough Council's Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) enforcing dog control.

Magistrates heard the council received a report from a member of the public on April 4 concerning a stray dog in School Street.

The resident had secured the golden labradoodle and, on arriving to collect the dog, council community wardens recognised it after it had been picked up in similar circumstances in August 2017.

After checking the details on the dog's microchip, the wardens called one of the phone numbers and spoke to Ms Lambeth's partner, who urged the wardens to bring the dog back to its home address.

On arriving at the property, the wardens informed him the dog could only be returned if he accepted a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for failing to keep the dog on a lead - a breach of the PSPO.

After making a phone call, believed to be to Lambeth, wardens told him the dog would be taken to kennels if he refused to accept the FPN.

He replied: "Do what you want. Take it."

While the wardens were on the way to Dunsmore Kennels, Lambeth called the council.

When a warden returned her call she was aggressive and, on being informed her dog had been found running across the road and her partner had refused to accept the FPN, swore at the warden.

The dog was dropped off at the kennels but later the wardens were informed the labradoodle had gone missing. The owner of the kennels contacted the police and, when questioned by officers, Lambeth admitted entering the kennels and taking the dog, claiming it had been wrongfully seized.

In court, the council's legal representative told magistrates a dog becomes the legal property of the council once it has been seized, and remains so until a FPN or the kennel costs have been paid.

Magistrates also heard Lambeth's actions had distressed the owner and staff at Dunsmore Kennels.

In mitigation, Lambeth said the labradoodle, called Ralph, must have escaped from the property after a visitor failed to close the garden gate - despite a sign requesting the gate be kept closed.

She added her children were distressed on discovering Ralph had been seized and denied being aggressive to the warden on the phone, claiming she was upset.

Magistrates fined Lambeth £100 for breaching the PSPO and ordered the 30-year-old to pay £669.20 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Lisa Parker, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and public realm, said: "The dog control Public Space Protection Order aims to ensure the safety of the public and encourage dog owners to take responsibility for their pets.

"Dog owners caught breaching the PSPO can expect a fixed penalty notice of £100 and a trip to court if they fail to pay."

For more information on the council's dog control orders, visit www.rugby.gov.uk/dogcontrol.