Grandmother, 41, becomes first woman in UK to be prosecuted for owning unregistered XL Bully under new laws

4 April 2024, 15:44 | Updated: 4 April 2024, 16:00

Jodie Fitzpatrick, 41, rescued the dog last year after he was abandoned at the seaside
Jodie Fitzpatrick, 41, rescued the dog last year after he was abandoned at the seaside. Picture: Jodie Fitzpatrick/Facebook

By Christian Oliver

A grandmother has become the first woman prosecuted for owning an unregistered XL Bully dog a year after finding the animal abandoned and taking it into her home.

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Jodie Fitzpatrick, 41, rescued the dog last year after she found him hungry and out in the cold while walking in Formby, Merseyside.

She then took the six-month-old XL Bully puppy home and named him Bleu.

Fitzpatrick has now been charged after failing to comply with the new laws. Fitzpatrick was required to apply for an exception for Bleu, have the animal neutered, or secure third-party insurance for the animal.

Following new laws coming into effect on February 1, Fitzpatrick was prosecuted under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

File image of XL bully dog
File image of XL bully dog. Picture: Alamy

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Police discovered the dog 17 days after the new ban was installed while visiting her home over an unrelated matter, it was reported. He was locked in a room at Fitzpatrick's home in Waterloo, near Liverpool.

Bleu was seized by officers and transferred to kennels. He was later ordered to be destroyed.

Fitzpatrick also pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a fighting dog. 

Sefton Magistrates' Court heard Fitzpatrick could not afford to apply for the exemption for Bleu. She receives state benefits totalling £300 per month.

Fitzpatrick's other dog Percie, a Lurcher, escaped from her home while police were visiting the property. The animal was found run over by a car four days later and was required to be put to sleep due his injuries.

A prosecutor said of the case: "The incident was on February 18 of this year. Police attended the home address of the defendant in relation to an unrelated matter.

"Whilst at the address police identified a large dog which was locked in one of the rooms.'Police dog handlers attended and identified the dog as showing characteristics of the dog type XL Bully.

"The dog which is named Blue had not been exempted under the Government scheme and was therefore a banned dog. The dog was seized and remanded in secure kennels where it remains until this time."

"I appreciate that Bleu is an XL Bully. She should have registered the dog with the vet and had him checked which is what the Government allows for. Unfortunately, finances did not prevail. She simply did not have the money to pay for the dog to become exempt, for the insurance etc.

"She knows that she has lost Blue and she has also lost Percy.'She is in receipt of Universal Credit and is on an income of £300 per month. She says she is thoroughly ashamed that she had to come to court. But she understands that she has come here and pleaded guilty."

Police said Blue showed signs of aggression, the court heard. The defence said this was because the dog did not know the officers.

Fitzpatrick was ordered to pay £614 in compensation to Merseyside Police and was conditionally discharged for 12-months.

McKeown admitted to one count of possessing or having a fighting dog, contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act
McKeown admitted to one count of possessing or having a fighting dog, contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act. Picture: Patrick McKeown/Facebook

It comes after a 40-year-old man became the first person to be prosecuted for owning an unregistered XL Bully.

Patrick McKeown told officers his pet "would attack anyone who approached it" after they came across the animal by chance when visiting Patrick McKeown for a different matter.

The dog's owner had warned officers that the XL Bully-type dog, named Sully, would attack anyone who went near it, which led police to get a warrant and seize the animal.

McKeown admitted to one count of possessing or having a fighting dog, contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act.

He has been given a one-year community order, requiring him to complete 100 hours of unpaid work. The former builder was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £114 surcharge.

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