A Staffordshire bull terrier that partially devoured the dead body of its owner was passed as a pet suitable for a "domestic environment". Dr Roger Mugford an animal behavourist carried out tests including walking the dog on a lead. In video footage of the test, the animal, which answers to the name of Butch or Buster, is seen wagging its tail and enjoying being patted on the back.
Upon examining the nine-year-old animal, Mugford said: "Somebody has taken very good care of this dog. For a dog of this age, he's in pretty good shape." On Mugford's Company of Animals website, a biography page states he has worked with the Queen's corgis.
At the beginning of April, the dog was ordered to be put down by District Judge Wendy Lloyd, who rule that it was a danger to the public. The dead owner's family also believe the dog is dangerous and wanted it euthanised.
A campaign to save Butch was set up by Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre and the Senior Staffy Club, based in Worcester. James Parry, who is representing the organisations, said there had been a "great deal of public support" for a stay of execution.
The dog had not attacked the owner, said Parry, but had resorted to cannibalism out of hunger. "We believe the tests applied to check on the animal were not appropriate and outdated. The 'alpha-role' was adopted by the doghandler, anticipating the dog was going to bite him - it's an outdated tactic," he told the Liverpool Echo.
The police dispute this claim, observing that after watching the Staffordshire bull terrier in its kennel, the animal "remained aggressive" and had a tendency to attack when rolled on its stomach, having bitten one of its handlers, PC Stuart Davidson. Officers were not prepared to take a risk of allowing the dog with "highly aggressive tendencies" to remain at large in public places.
Parry defended the canine's behaviour, saying: "Dogs are scavengers by nature, but when they can't get food, they will get anything that is available to them, as was in this case."
He added: "There are a number of documented cases of dogs, effectively starving, who've gone on to eat a deceased person."
An inquest into the owner's death in September 2015, could not conclude if it was connected to any attack from the bull terrier, which was seized by police.
More from IBTimes UK