London, Dec 29: A dog that reportedly ate its dead owner is at the centre of a battle between British cops who want it put down and animal charities who oppose the move.
The row began after the starving nine-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier was discovered alongside the injured body of its owner in Liverpool in September.
An inquest into the man's death was unable to determine if it was connected to any attack by the dog, which was seized by police.
Now, the pet owner's family want the dog destroyed, believing it to pose a danger to the public, a view supported by Merseyside Police.
The dog is named as both 'Buster' and 'Butch' in court papers. A court hearing will take place early next month, applied for by the Chief Constable, to get permission to put the dog down, The Sun reported. But that move is opposed by animal charities, Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre, in Sefton, Merseyside and The Senior Staff Club, based in Worcester.
A law firm, representing those groups, is set to argue that for a starving dog, left without food or water for a prolonged period, eating a deceased person was not uncommon.
Merseyside Police will argue the animal also displayed violent behaviour when its dog handling team was examining it, and later when mixing with other dogs at the force kennels.
A spokesman for Merseyside Police said: "We can confirm that it has applied, with the full support of the dog owner's family, to the courts to have the dog humanely destroyed." Earlier this year, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) said that increasing ignorance among people buying dogs was leading to more aggressive dogs in the UK.
The number of court cases involving attacks has risen by 62 per cent year on year after a toughening of laws making owners directly responsible, but with eight postal workers attacked each day and more than 7,000 hospital admissions last year from dog bites, the problem is serious, the PDSA had said.
The charity believes that the level of canine aggression is down to the owners and caused by poor dog socialisation and training, as well as animals not being properly exercised.
"Millions of dogs aren't getting off-the-lead exercise outside their home or garden for 10 minutes or more on a daily basis," Vicki Larkham of the PDSA had said.
"A properly trained and socialised dog is less likely to act aggressively as it grows up. It's up to every owner to make sure this happens," Larkham had said.