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The RSPCA finally returned a dog to its owner, Brian Nuttall, after more than a year on 26 April. Topic, a seven-year-old Patterdale bitch, was being held as “evidence” even though a case against Mr Nuttall was dropped when the RSPCA had no evidence to present on 11 April.

Mr Nuttall told Shooting Times he was delighted to have his terrier returned to him — particularly because the charity had not informed him for several months that they had seized the dog as “evidence” even though they knew it was his.

After the case was dismissed, Mr Nuttall’s solicitor, Stephen Welford of ABR Solicitors, in Leeds, contacted the solicitor who prosecuted the case on behalf of the RSPCA about getting the dog returned. He was told that it would be dealt with and Topic would be returned.

But when Shooting Times first spoke to Mr Nuttall on 24 April this hadn’t happened. Shooting Times then contacted the RSPCA, which said it was “looking into the matter and Mr Nuttall’s dog is being returned to him. The process of returning a case dog to its owner is being worked through.”

Mr Nuttall said Topic disappeared on the same day in March 2012 that he was filmed by hunt monitors from the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) who alleged he was interfering with a badger sett.

“They had seen Topic on the lead with her red locator collar, and they knew whose dog she was,” he said. “She ran off a while after, and there were three conflicting reports of how she was found. One of the LACS monitors said she ‘appeared at his feet’, the other that she came out of a hole and the RSPCA inspector said she was walking along the road.”

The rest of this article appears in the 1st May issue of Shooting Times.

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