POLICE and a vet have been criticised after a perfectly healthy labrador was put down days after giving birth to 10 pups.
Officers were called to a house in Bellshill after three-year-old Lara bit the owner’s cousin and a friend.
But Danielle Henderson claims her dog was simply being protective of her newborn pups and the police reaction was over the top.
She spoke out after being cleared of neglecting Lara and the pups by keeping them in a cupboard without adequate food, water and ventilation.
Ms Henderson (20), of Amethyst Avenue, Bellshill, described Lara as a ‘friendly’ dog, adding: “I was devastated when she was put down. They said she was being sedated, but she died in front of me. She could have been re-homed.
“The police came back the next day and charged me with neglect.
“But Lara had gone into the cupboard to give birth. She did the same thing when she had pups previously.
“She was normally a friendly dog, but when she gave birth she wouldn’t let anyone near her or them. I left food and water for her outside the cupboard.”
Ms Henderson was accused of ill-treating the dog and pups at her then home in Hattonrigg Road over a seven-day period in July 2010.
The trial took place at Hamilton Sheriff Court last week, but after legal points were raised by her solicitor, Alan Murray, Sheriff Thomas Millar found Ms Henderson not guilty.
She could have been banned from having pets had she been found guilty.
Ms Henderson said: “The verdict is a relief, but the case should never have gone to court.
“I have had animals all my life - no way would I be cruel to them.”
The court heard evidence from a vet and a police dog handler who both said Ms Henderson wanted Lara put down - something Mr Murray disputed in court.
Vet Colin Elliot defended his practice’s role in the situation.
He said: “A vet was called out under police instruction to euthanasise a dog that had bitten two people. The vet cannot make that decision.”
A police spokesman described the dog’s death as ‘unfortunate’, but added: “We were responding to a call about a dangerous dog.
“We took advice from a vet and a dog handler at the scene that the dog had to be put down. The owner wanted that.”
Government advice issued to police under the Dangerous Dogs Act outlines circumstances in which an owner can be charged and an animal seized pending a court hearing, but there is no mention of police having the power to destroy a dog.
A spokesman for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals declined to comment on the police handling of this case, but confirmed that pups belonging to Lara had been taken into its care.