Dog DNA Database Used to Convict Murderer in England

December 3, 2010

The Times of London reports on a case where the use of a new companion animal DNA database helped place a murderer at the scene of his crime and led to his conviction. This is believed to be a world’s first. Read the complete article here.

In South London, as elsewhere, gang members routinely own aggressive dogs, sometimes referred to as “weapon dogs” or “status dogs.” While the penalties for committing a crime with a knife or a gun normally lead to a mandatory jail sentence, the law is much more lenient when to comes to convicting dog owners for the behavior of their charges. Yet an aggressive dog can do as much or more damage than a knife, and their very presence is intimidating.

The dog in this case was a Staffordshire Bull-Terrier, one of three related breeds (in the molosser group) we lump together and usually call pit bulls. Pit Bulls were bred at one time for bear baiting, an ‘entertainment’ that originated in England under Queen Elizabeth the First.

A bear would be staked in a pit and a group of dogs would be set up it, a ‘blood sport’, just as cruel and vicious as contemporary dog fighting rings.

In the same London neighborhood you could drink, hook up with a painted strumpet in a brothel or attend an original performance of The Winter’s Tale. The connection between these business was multi-layered: actors and theatrical impresarios like Philip Henslowe and his son-in-law, Edward Alleyn also owned bawdy houses where a man might catch the ‘French Welcome’ (syphilis).  The most famous exit line in all theater is in The Winter’s Tale – just before the death of the character Antigonus, “Exit, Pursued by a bear.” Shakespeare was making a joke that his actors and audience would understand.



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