A dog that ate its dead owner could be set to return to the streets due to protests from animal rights campaigners - despite the fact that the man's family want the animal to be put down,

Staffordshire bull terrier Butch, 10, was discovered feeding on his owner's corpse at a house in Waterloo, Liverpool, in September 2014 after an estimated four days without food and water.

Merseyside Police said the "highly agitated" staffie was aggressive to officers who attended the scene and seized the canine after the incident.

The force was granted an order to destroy the dog last year - which police said Butch's owner's family were supportive of.

Advertisement

But animal campaigners battling the ruling have now won the right for it to be reviewed - and claim Butch eating his owner was simply "what was natural" as the dog had been deprived of food for so long.

Kate Lee, a trustee of The Senior Staffy Club, said: "Butch was left alone for four days without water and food not knowing if anyone was ever coming to help him.

"He has done what dogs do and what has come naturally to him."

After Butch was seized, an assessment by a Merseyside Police dog expert found he was dangerous - with footage showing him bite and snap at the handler when asked to lie on his side.

The force was granted an order for his destruction at Liverpool Magistrates Court on April 14 last year and said his late owner's family backed their calls for him to be put down.

But charity The Senior Staffy Club called for a judicial review and Judge Nigel Bird granted a review into the fairness of the original hearing at Manchester Civil Justice Centre last Tuesday.

The organisation also claims its own handler found Butch was not dangerous - and has released footage they say shows him responding to commands without aggression.

An inquest into Butch's owner's death in September 2015 was unable to determine whether he died as a result of any attack from the staffie, and a date for the new review is yet to be announced.

Kate added: "We are really pleased with the decision. It's something we have been fighting for for quite a while now, and to hear that our points have been listened to is great.

"It was an outcome that we were always hoping to get."