Candy d'Sa receives OCU commendation

On 3rd July 2015 I received the Operational Command Unit (OCU) Commander's Commendation from the Metropolitan Police Service Specialist Crimes and Operations Taskforce, for professionalism in the investigation of animal welfare and submission of high quality evidence leading to a successful prosecution and the rescue of 33 dogs.

ARTICLE: The truth about Stella

Expert witness services

The science of behaviour is well respected in the courtroom and over the past 16 years I have developed a particular knowledge and reputation as an Expert Witness in animal law.

I was registered as an Expert Witness with the Sweet and Maxwell Expert Witness Directory from 2003 to its closure in 2017, and currently registered with the UK Register of Expert Witnesses since 2017, and with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) since its conception in 2014. I am listed on the National Crime Agency (NCA), Major Crimes Investigative Support (MCIS) Expert Advisers Database. I receive 50+ instructions per year from solicitors (both criminal and civil cases) and police forces, and regularly attend court to give evidence. I conduct behavioural assessment and breed identification of dogs whose owners are facing prosecution under Section 1 and Section 3(1) and (4) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 [i.e. Possession of a prohibited breed, and Being the owner of dog which was dangerously out of control in a public place (aggravated and non-aggravated offences)], and Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 [i.e. Being the owner of a dog which is dangerous and not kept under proper control]. For welfare cases, I consider the issue of mental suffering in animals under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 [Unnecessary suffering] and consider the needs of animals under Section 9 [Duty of person responsible to ensure welfare].  I also consider the issue of strict liability for damage done by animals, under Section 2(2) of the Animals Act 1971 [Liability for damage done by dangerous animals].

I have frequently been called upon by both defence and prosecution to provide an unbiased opinion about the behaviour of dogs, and also have been instructed as a Single Joint Expert for both parties. I have assisted/advised the Crown with expert evidence on four separate occasions in the investigation of the death of a human caused by a dog.

While a great deal of my legal work to date has involved the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the Dogs Act 1871, the Animals Act 1971 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006, I have also worked on cases involving the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Hunting Act 2004, the Wild Mammals (Protection Act) 1996 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, in a variety of cases including tail docking, animal hoarding, fox hunting and wild bird entrapment.

On 3rd July 2015, I received the Operational Command Unit (OCU) Commander’s Commendation from the Metropolitan Police Service Specialist Crimes and Operations Taskforce, for professionalism in the investigation of animal welfare and submission of high quality evidence leading to a successful prosecution and the rescue of 33 dogs and three cats from a single household.

I have been instructed as an expert for the prosecution on many occasions by the Metropolitan Police Service Status Dogs Unit, and also by the British Transport Police and the constabularies of Essex, Kent, South Wales, Devon & Cornwall, Thames Valley, Avon & Somerset, West Mercia, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Suffolk, Norfolk, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire.  I have been instructed as a defence expert for numerous solicitors’ practices including the better-known Cooper & Co., Wheldon Law and Parry Welch.

I work with Dog Legislation Officers (DLOs) from police forces nationwide, most frequently with the Metropolitan Police Service Status Dogs Unit, and I am a lecturer in behaviour on the Metropolitan Police Service DLO training course. This course is nationally accredited by National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) [formerly the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)]. In addition to my behavioural input, I have also attended the course in its entirety for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) purposes. In 2015, I carried out a series of DLO Refresher seminars, lecturing in dog behaviour and the behaviour of dangerous dogs across the southern half of the UK, at the request of the Metropolitan Police Service and funded by Defra. I received personal thanks from Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard (NPCC holder of the Dangerous Dogs Portfolio for Police in England and Wales), for my input on these courses.

In addition, for local authorities I assess dogs whose owners are applying to foster or adopt a child, for schools introducing a dog to their pupils, and I assess kennel and cattery premises for licensing purposes and attend local Council hearings where appropriate.  I also assist in civil cases involving ownership of the family dog and noise nuisance from barking dogs, and in mediation between neighbouring owners of free-ranging cats where problems arise.

Procedure for legal cases:

Please contact me for further advice. If you have not already done so, I will first put you in touch with a reputable solicitor experienced in dog law.

For Section 1 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 cases:

In 1993 the Queen's Bench Divisional Court determined the legal definition of the word "type". In the landmark case of Dunne and Brock their Lordships Justice Glidewell and Justice Cresswell stated that "a dog of the type known as a Pit Bull Terrier is an animal approximately amounting to, near to, having a substantial number of characteristics of the Pit Bull Terrier". They ruled that the relevant breed standard for assessing whether or not a dog is of the type should be that provided by the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA). I therefore use this as the definitive guide to the appearance and behaviour of Pit Bull Terrier types. A number of key measurements are taken from the dog, which are then used to conduct a conformational analysis to all points identified in the ADBA standard.