Stella’s story started out as many others: seized under the Dangerous Dog Act due to being deemed a Pit Bull type in 2014, Stella remained in death row as her owner fought a desperate court battle to appeal against the destruction order issued. What brought her story into the spotlight last February, sparking outrage, was the revelation that she had spent two years in a 3ft by 9ft cage at the private kennel used by Devon and Cornwall Police without ever being taken out to be exercised.

Devon and Cornwall Police first justified the measure as a matter of safety, saying that it was rare for them to order the kennel staff not to exercise a dog, and blamed the length of time she had to spend caged on the owner’s appeals against the destruction order. However, with public pressure mounting, Stella was eventually moved into a different kennel with an exercise area.

Today, 22 June, Stella is finally out of kennels – and out of death row.

“We are thrilled to say that Stella’s appeal was successful today,” a Wheldon Law statement reads. “The CPS agreed that Stella did not pose a risk to the public if she remained with her current keeper, who has a vast amount of experience in handling dogs. Stella will remain living on a 27 acre farm in the beautiful Devon countryside with her adoring new keeper and family.

“Much respect to Stella’s owner Anthony Hastie who made the very difficult decision to give Stella up to give her the best possible chance. Grateful thanks also to Laura Khanlarian and Helen Godfrey for being brave enough to speak up about the conditions in which Stella was being kept, and Claire Jones from the BBC for taking up Stella’s story.”

While Stella’s story had a happy ending, things may have gone very differently if not for the public interest in her fate. Many other dog, seized every day, are not as lucky – and remain on death row, away from the public eye, until they are either exempted or destroyed.

Image by Wheldon Law.


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