Protest at prison dogs' plight

By James HorePROTESTERS have staged a protest outside a jail to demand that a former prison dog handler has his beloved animals returned to him.Danny Broderick's two spaniels, Toby and Harley, were taken away from him earlier this year after he resigned from the Prison Service following 30 years of dedicated work.

By James Hore

CAMPAIGNERS have staged a protest outside a jail to demand that a former prison dog handler has his beloved animals returned to him.

Danny Broderick's two spaniels, Toby and Harley, were taken away from him earlier this year after he resigned from the Prison Service following 30 years of dedicated work.

Usual procedures would have allowed Mr Broderick to keep the dogs, which also lived at home with him and his wife, Lorna, but he was told they would be going to a new handler.

The former Irish Guardsman refused a written request to return the dogs, but was then ordered to appear before a court when the Prison Service was granted an injunction taking ownership of the dogs.

Toby, a springer spaniel, and Harley, a cocker spaniel, were subsequently split up and Mr Broderick, a former Chelmsford Prison dog handler, was also ordered to pay £5,000 in damages and legal costs to the Prison Service.

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Mr Broderick has claimed that a row about his shift patterns, which triggered his resignation, was the reason behind the Prison Service's decision to keep the spaniels.

The 58-year-old, of Church Road, Chelmsford, has received huge support from the people in the town and across the country, with more than 5,000 putting their name to a petition backing his fight to keep the dogs.

Demonstrators were outside the Springfield Road jail on Saturday to stage a protest against the Prison Service's decision.

Friend and supporter, Jackie Jackson, said the fight would go on until the dogs were back with Mr Broderick.

"We wanted this to show Danny the support he has from us. It is terrible - if you talk to him about it, his eyes well up," she added.

"The only way we will stop the campaigning is if they hand the dogs back. If they do the right thing, then we will stop."

Mr Broderick, who was not at the protest, said it had been the saddest day of his life when the dogs had been taken away.

He also planned to continue to fight for the rights of other prison officers to keep their dogs upon retirement.

Mr Broderick has made offers, through his solicitors, to buy Toby and Harley and even to sponsor a replacement dog, but has yet to get a response from the Prison Service.

No-one from the Prison Service was available for comment yesterday. But speaking in October after the court hearing, Ian West, head of security at Chelmsford Prison, said he had "every sympathy" for Mr Broderick.

But he added: "These dogs are not pets, they are working animals purchased out of public funds."

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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