A retired news presenter has won a legal battle to free his beloved dogs after they were detained for ten months by police over the fatal mauling of a professional dog walker.
Glen Oglaza, a former newsman for ITV and Sky News, has not seen six-year-old Cookie and one-year-old Shadow since they were thrown in the pooch pound after their walker was killed in a frenzied attack by her own Pitbull dog and some of the seven other dogs in her care.
Mr Oglaza’s dogs, yellow Labradoodle Cookie and black and white Sheepadoodle Shadow, were in the pack and were immediately seized along with the other dogs Natasha Johnston, 28, was walking while police investigated which ones were involved.
The other dogs included a ten stone Leonburger, two Dachshunds, a Labrador and Ms Johnston’s own canines – Stan, a Pitbull Terrier, and Benji, a cream Labradoodle.
The main perpetrator of the attack is thought to have been Ms Johnston’s enormous Pitbull Terrier, which she had rescued and which was subsequently put down after the horrific attack.
Glen Oglaza, a former newsman for ITV and Sky News, has not seen six-year-old Cookie and one-year-old Shadow since they were seized ten months ago by police
The dogs were in a pack that was seized after Natasha Johnston, 28, was mauled. It is thought that the Ms Johnson’s own Pitbull Terrier, which has since been put down, was responsible
Yellow Labradoodle Cookie and black and white Sheepadoodle Shadow have been returned to Mr Oglaza
Ms Johnston died from a perforation of her jugular vein and multiple other bites to her neck after the mauling at the Gravely Hill beauty spot in Caterham, Surrey, on January 12, an inquest previously heard.
Lawyers and canine experts for Mr Oglaza, 68, told a hearing at Staines Magistrates Court yesterday(MON) that his docile dogs had nothing to do with Ms Johnston’s tragic death.
But the complainant in the case, Surrey Police, argued Cookie and Shadow should live the rest of their lives under control orders which would see them microchipped, kept on the lead in public and never allowed to be walked in a group of more than three dogs.
Pamela Rose, representing Mr Oglaza, said a control order from Cookie and Shadow would be ‘disproportionate’.
She told the hearing: ‘There is no evidence that these two dogs had any culpability. To have two youngish dogs on a lead for life is disproportionate.’
District Judge Julie Cooper refused to grant the force’s draconian demands and said she had heard no evidence that either of Mr Oglaza’s dogs were dangerous.
Mr Oglaza was visibly overjoyed in court on hearing that he would be reunited with his dogs and was heard to say ‘I think I might cry’.
Judge Cooper said: ‘I have not heard anything in evidence that these dogs have behaved in a way that is dangerous.’
‘The lady who is deceased, unfortunately and very sadly, did not have control of the dogs in her care.
‘At least one of the dogs was aggressive. He had bitten a member of the public.
Police at Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey, where the mauling took place ten months ago
Mr Oglaza was visibly overjoyed in court on hearing that he would be reunited with his dogs and was heard to say ‘I think I might cry’
Judge Cooper suggested Mr Oglaza consider not entrusting his pets to a dogwalker who is in charge of multiple dogs again
‘I have not heard any evidence that [Shadow and Cookie] were dangerous on the day.
‘It’s more likely that they were running away from the situation that they found themselves in and were afraid of.
‘In these circumstances I don’t grant the order.’
However, acknowledging the ‘horrendous circumstances’ of Ms Johnston’s death, Judge Cooper suggested Mr Oglaza consider not entrusting his pets to a dogwalker who is in charge of multiple dogs again.
Earlier in the hearing, Alexander dos Santos, acting for Surrey Police, told the court that two of the eight dogs Ms Johnston had been walking were found to have blood on them after the attack – a Labrador and Stan the Pitbull, who was previously thought to be an XL Bully.
He said control orders are required for most of the dogs involved, adding that several of the canines ‘played a role – even if it was a minor role’ and insisted because there was a ‘pack activity’ no dogs should be excluded.
But canine behaviour consultant Helen Howell disagreed with subjecting Shadow and Cookie to control orders, telling the court she did not deem them aggressive.
Asked if there was any reason Shadow should be kept on a lead at all times, Ms Howell replied: ‘No. Shadow is a well-trained dog who has not displayed any sign of aggressive behaviour. The same applies for Cookie.’
Ms Howell added that she thought it unlikely that the dogs had behaved as a pack, as they were described as exhibiting different behaviour and did not all ‘dive in’ on Ms Johnston.
But Mr dos Santos said she hadn’t focused on pack mentality in her report and that she was ‘not qualified to make the assumption that this was not a pack reaction’.