AN ILLEGAL pit bull has been given a death sentence, unless his owner takes action within the next two months.

Terry Trant, of Cunningham Close, Shoebury, will have two months to get Buster on an ‘exempt’ list to prevent him being destroyed.

This means he will have to shell out about £500 to get him neutered, insured, microchipped, and tattoed with a number given to him for the list.

Mr Trant, 33, appeared before Southend Magistrates Court for a civil hearing to decide the dog’s fate.

Fiona Philpott, who brought the case on behalf of Essex Police, said officers had been searching Mr Trant’s address in February when the dog was seized.

She said:”Buster has the misfortune to resemble a PItt Bull type dog and was seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act.”

She said he had then been examined by Sgt Russ Abbott who identified the dog was in fact a Pitt Bull.

However, she said there was no suggestion Buster had ever been dangerous at any time.

Mr Trant, who represented himself, said: “I will agree with the experts, but when I bought him I bought him under the belief he was part mastiff, part Boxer, and part Staffordshire Terrier.”

He said he was also a responsible dog owner and had been since he was a little boy.

He added: “He was brought up nice, he’s a loving dog. He hasn’t got a vicious bone in his body.”

The force then spent £4,200 kennelling Buster before bringing the case, and the court heard Mr Trant had been in prison for part of this time.

He said he had been told since it had been more than six months since Buster was seized, he would not face a criminal prosecution.

For this reason he was only ordered to pay £150 towards the kennelling and £200 court costs.

The court made a ‘contingent destruction order’ which means Mr Trant must make the changes within two months or the dog will be put down.

Once he has the dog back he must keep him on a lead and muzzle in public places under the control of someone aged 16 or over.

Buster must also be in secure conditions at home where he can’t escape. If Mr Trant changes address or the dog dies he must notify the authorities. If asked by any police or local authority officer, he must also show proof the dog is on the exempt list.