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Dempsey was a female American Pit Bull Terrier who was the subject of a high-profile test case of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. She was owned by Dianne Fanneran and lived in London. She died in 2003.
While being walked one evening in April 1992, muzzled and leashed in accordance with the law, she was taken ill, and the person walking her (who was not her owner) had to remove her muzzle so she could be sick. This was spotted by two passing policemen.
Three months later, at Ealing Magistrates' Court, Dempsey was sentenced to death under the Dangerous Dogs Act for being in public unmuzzled.
Dempsey was then put by the police into secret kennels for three years, during which various legal appeals took place at the Crown Court, the High Court and even the House of Lords. The case was extensively reported by the British and international media, and even taken up by actress-turned-animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot, who offered Dempsey sanctuary in France to escape British injustice.
The case was finally dismissed in November 1995 on a legal technicality, namely that Dempsey's owner — who had not been involved in the original incident and bizarrely was not told about it until long afterwards — did not know about the first court case in advance. Dempsey was reprieved, and went on to live to the age of 17.
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