Kangals seized after Lloyd Park attacks may never be returned

Croydon police are “doing everything they can” to ensure that three large guard dogs that have been roaming, out of control in Lloyd Park, are never returned to their owner, according to local MP Sarah Jones.

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Out of control: two of the three Kangal guard dogs, as video’d in a neighbour’s garden last month

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Out of control: two of the three Kangal guard dogs, as video’d in a neighbour’s garden last month

The Turkish Kangals got out of their compound at Coombe Farm last month, breaking into a neighbouring garden where they killed three hens and then headed off into Lloyd Park.

There, they chased after a jogger and attacked another dog before eventually being collected by their owners and then taken away by the police.

Newspaper reports suggest that the incident on July 21 was the fourth time that these same dogs had broken out of their home and attacked other dogs or people.

The Kangals had even been confiscated by the police before, in March, only for them to be returned to their owner provided they met conditions to manage them.

Coombe Farm is owned by Anwar Ansari, the millionaire builder and developer, who is now in legal dispute with his neighbours over the events last month. Dr Ansari says that he disputes a number of the claims made against him in a report in the Daily Mail.

The newspaper’s website includes a disturbing video of the incident, with a family watching from behind closed doors as the Kangals roamed around their garden, savaging the pet chickens.

Members of the Friends of Lloyd Park’s Facebook group have expressed their deep concerns, and real fear, about the large size and strength of the Kangals and the danger that they pose to other park users.

“Many of us that use Lloyd Park do not feel safe now,” wrote one.

“Why did the police return the dogs?” asked another. “The fencing around the farm is woefully inadequate… They will kill some day.”

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Perplexed: Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones in yesterday’s Commons debate

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Concerned: Croydon MP Sarah Jones

Today, MP Jones issued a statement which said, “Over recent weeks I have become increasingly concerned regarding a series of dog attacks in Croydon, including in and around Lloyd Park.

“I have been in regular contact with the local police as well as concerned constituents, including those who have sadly been injured and traumatised by these attacks.

“I understand that the dogs had previously been confiscated by the police for attacks on other dogs. However, they were later returned to the owner with conditions on how to manage them in the form of an acceptable behaviour contract.

“The dogs have once again been seized and the local police are doing everything they can to ensure they don’t get released back to the owner.”

Lorraine James, whose hens were attacked by the dogs after they broke into their garden, wrote on social media: “The trauma of this attack is far more complex and impactful than simply the loss of my pet hens, which in itself was traumatic to watch and experience.

“We have also lost our sense of safety, security and enjoyment of our home and garden for now…. In time, we will find the resources and resilience to get through this.”

James said that she “will continue to petition for these dangerous dogs to be destroyed and for the owner to be banned from owning dogs in the future”.

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Tall order: the Kangal is derived from Anatolian sherpherds’ guard dogs

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Tall order: the bear-like Kangal is derived from Anatolian shepherds’ guard dogs

The Turkish Kangal is a relatively new breed to be recognised by the Kennel Club, and is another type that attracts some owners who want a “trophy dog” or “status dog”, because of their intimidating size and strength.

The breed’s story suggests that the Kangal is derived from dogs used by shepherds in the Anatolian Mountains of Turkey to fight off wolves attacking their flock of goats or sheep. Some sources suggest that the Kangal has a “bite force” of 734 pounds per square inch, meaning that it has the strongest jaws of any dog.

According to the Kennel Club, the Turkish Kangal is an “active breed used as a guarding dog for sheep and livestock; they guard the flock rather than herd”.

Of the Kangal’s temperament, the Kennel Club says, “This is not by nature an aggressive breed but it can be dominant and territorial. Steady and bold, naturally independent, very intelligent. Proud and confident, but can be aloof with strangers. Loyal to its master.”

Kangals can stand nearly three-feet tall at the shoulder – a typical pet labrador is perhaps just two-thirds that size. If a Kangal stands on their hind legs, they are often taller than an average height person.

Other dog experts say, “A well-socialised Kangal is not generally aggressive to people, and especially loves children — but the breed does not recognise property boundaries. It will wander, attack stray dogs and may be aggressive to human intruders, especially at night.”

Dr Ansari has been a sometimes controversial figure in Croydon political circles for a number of years, having chaired his Constituency Labour Party, funded and hosted an election victory party in 2014 after Labour won control of Croydon Town Hall, and provided financial support for Yvette Cooper’s failed party leadership campaign.

He has also been a frequent and generous donor to local charities and religious groups.

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Counter-claim: Dr Anwar Ansari says he has acted according to police directions

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Counter-claim: Dr Anwar Ansari says he has acted according to police directions

With assets said to be worth £80million, Ansari’s business interest include AA Homes and Housing, which has used permitted development rules to convert several office buildings in and around Croydon town centre into blocks of flats.

Ansari also owns the Grade II-listed Leslie Arms on Lower Addiscombe Road. Closed as a pub more than 20 years ago – long before the developer acquired it – Ansari has faced calls from the Victorian Society to sell to another owner who might be more likely to finish the restoration work and bring the building back into public use.

Ansari’s ownership of Coombe Farm has also proved controversial, as he has developed the site in the Addington Hills into a mix of residential properties, offices and a mosque.

Ansari’s involvement with the three rampaging Kangals, therefore, has done little to win over his neighbours.

Luke James, who witnessed the Kangals killing his family’s pet hens, was quoted by the Mail as saying, “Those dogs are a menace. They are out of control and it’s lucky that someone hasn’t yet been killed.

“I don’t think Dr Ansari should be allowed to keep powerful animals like this.”

Today, Dr Ansari told Inside Croydon that he disputes much of the reporting in the Mail. He claims that the newspaper did not contact him before publishing its report.

He says that the Kangals are “working dogs rather than pets and require additional security and other welfare. They are walked on the farm estate three times a day. They are well cared for”. He says that his company, AA Homes and Housing, is the legal owner of the dogs.

After the dogs escaped from Coombe Farm in March, Dr Ansari said that, “The company worked with the police to put in place all recommended enclosures and security to prevent the dogs causing any distress or damage to other residents or the public.

“The police were satisfied that the dogs were securely and responsibly being kept on the estate and did not pose any danger.”

It has been suggested that last month’s escape may have been the result of an inadvertent intervention by one of the residents of Coombe Farm.

“When neighbours informed me that the dogs had escaped their enclosure on the farm, together with my sons, I immediately acted to recapture the dogs,” Dr Ansari said.

“When doing so I was met with hostility and my car was barricaded such that I could not easily move it. The dogs were found in the playing field and were brought back to the farm by me and my son after which the police visited the farm and asked my wife to hand over the dogs, which she did.”

Dr Ansari says that he has filed a complaint of racially aggravated false imprisonment which is the subject of ongoing police enquiries.

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