Thursday, 22 December 2016

Mr Bronx: Lessons to be Learnt

Mr Bronx: Lessons to be Learnt

I’ve been looking at the chronology about Mr Bronx, whom I am happy to say, has been reunited with his family for Christmas.

This is well-described in their post on Facebook:

“During this time we have researched so much on this matter and come to realise how much this can occur especially in the UK. We reached out to the Jersey's States Vet who spoke to us and we only asked her to go to the animal shelter and see him however she failed to do so. We were very disappointed. We went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and seeked legal advice, we spoke to other dog professionals such as Rosie Barclay and even took it upon ourselves to bring over an independent qualified assessor which was discussed with Customs who were happy with her credentials. It cost us a lot of money but we wanted to end this nightmare as soon as possible. To our relief he was not deemed and found to be a pit-bull. As you can imagine we were over the moon and extremely happy."

"Since then Customs & Excise decided to bring their own assessor who is a retired Police Officer and now trains Police dogs. He was not an independent assessor and not even close to being as qualified as Kendal Shepard the assessor we brought over.”

“In Customs defence they have been understanding to our situation and of course are only doing their job, however due to never coming across a situation like this they have not been knowledgeable or equipped to deal with this so the uncertainty of what was going to happen and what may still happen has been stressful and a huge burden to our family.”

“Their assessor has deemed him a pit-bull type and now we are going to have to go to court should we proceed to contest.”

Deidre Mezbourian, who had to make the decision on the future of the dog, stated: “In particular, I am grateful to the Customs and Immigration Service, whose officers have received unwarranted public criticism for simply doing their jobs and upholding the Island’s laws.”

An opinion or suspicion by a Customs officer seems reasonable enough to detain the dog - initially. However, they did not take any action thereafter to confirm their suspicions and in effect just placed the dog in quarantine.

When an independent assessor was brought in, they were happy with her credentials – until she pronounced that the dog was not a pit-bull, whereupon they secured another opinion that said that the dog was.

Does that seem professional?

I am reminded of the saga of the underground water coming from France. The dowsers in Jersey have long believed that there were deep underground fissures through which water flowed from Normandy across to Jersey.

An experiment was decided upon: to look at isotopes in the water, which would act as a signature and confirm or otherwise that the water in Normandy came to Jersey. The dowsers agreed, and agreed with the drilling to go ahead at particular locations in Jersey.

When, however, the results confirmed what the British Geological Survey had been saying all along, that there was no underground water, the dowers complained that it was the wrong location, it had been sampled wrongly, and – basically – anything they could to declare the scientific experiment invalid.

Does that seem professional?

The same seems to have happened with the dog. When an assessor was agreed, that should have been the end of the matter, but instead, customs seemed to backtrack on their agreement, and get in another expert – with lesser credentials – to give the result they wanted.

Customs not only brought in an untrained and non-independent handler to make an assessment but defended themselves in court based on what must surely be dubious findings in anyone’s book. It was not Magistrate Peter Harris’ best day either in upholding their decision against that of a recognised expert.

If experts disagree, the very least that one might expect would be to seek another expert, agreed on in advance by both parties, and to abide by that decision. That would seem to be just and fair, and a scientific approach to the matter.

Now the dog has stringent conditions imposed on it, hastily cobbled together from the UK, all because of decisions poorly taken, and an apparent refusal to admit that customs could be wrong.

So professional, just upholding the law, as the Constable of St Lawrence said? Unwarranted public criticism?  
I’ll let you make your own mind up.

But if the dog is ever DNA tested, and shown to have no pit-bull strains at all (a test which the Magistrate should have ordered before making a final decision), I hope some people will have the grace to apologise.

1 comment:

Sam Milo said...

I could not agree with you more!! This has been a total Debacle on behalf of the authorities from the day they decided that the world renowned experts decision was not the one they wanted!! Total farce!! But not so funny for the poor incarcerated dog and his frantic family!!