Western Isles Council is in the dog house after an apparent blunder meant it lost a court case against the same animals for the second time within a year.
Stornoway man Jim Bruce won his case after the local authority was found to have made a “fundamental flaw” by omitting the date on an official dog control order.
Failure to comply with the legal notice is a criminal offence and can incur a fine of up to £1,000 – but the council’s undated order is not enforceable, maintained a sheriff.
The local authority maintained Mr Bruce’s dalmatian bit a collie, leaving puncture marks.
Mr Bruce of Millar Road, Stornoway, who conducted his own case in court, denied his dog was in the wrong, saying the other animal was aggressive.
He accused the council of siding against him and deciding to take action before even hearing his version of events.
Sheriff David Sutherland highlighted the council’s error in his judgment last night at the end of a hearing in Stornoway Sheriff Court.
He ordered the council to pay expenses to Mr Bruce, which could be around £500 it is understood.
Last year, he was awarded about £650 by the sheriff following a similar outcome when the case was thrown out of court because the council got the location wrong.
The “fundamentally important” legal issues surrounding the case were highlighted Sheriff Sutherland when giving his decision.
The new control notice issued after the last court case is “signed but not dated.”
“So we do not know what date it relates to,” he said.
Breaching such a notice is a criminal offence but the undated order would be “unable to be enforced” if legally challenged.
In addition, the council told the other dog’s owner they were “going to issue a notice” against Mr Bruce before they had even spoken to him to get his side of the story.
CCTV footage evidence of the incident from Mr Bruce was available to the council but they failed to take it away, stressed the sheriff.
After concluding the legal appeal, Sheriff David Sutherland made an observation to Mr Bruce that “clearly at least one of the dogs is boisterous and needs to be kept under better control.”
“We don’t want further notices to be sent or further action taken” he added.