Princess Anne's Dog Cleared of Murder

updated 12/30/2003 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 12/30/2003 4:50PM

There's something of a sigh of relief at Buckingham Palace, though Princess Anne and her animal brood aren't entirely off the hook.

On Tuesday it was announced by an official royal spokesman that the English bull terrier belonging to Princess Anne and accused of brutally attacking one of Queen Elizabeth's beloved corgis was, in fact, not the culprit at all, reports Reuters.

The Palace, chalking it all up to mistaken identity, now claims that Dottie, the bull terrier owned by the queen's daughter, was wrongly blamed for savaging the queen's corgi Pharos, who had to be put to sleep by a vet after the attack.

The assault on Pharos occurred last week as the royal family gathered to celebrate Christmas at their Sandringham estate in eastern England.

"It wasn't Dottie," a palace spokesman tells the news service. "It was another dog, Florence."

Florence is also a bull terrier and is owned by Princess Anne.

Not that Dottie's history is unblemished. Last April, she attacked two children in Windsor Great Park, near London.

Last month, Princess Anne, 53, was fined 500 pounds (nearly $900) for that attack and ordered to pay the same amount in compensation after pleading guilty to a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The incident marked the first time a senior member of the British royal family had been convicted of a criminal offense, says Reuters.

Queen Elizabeth, 77, a corgi fancier, has famously bred the Welsh farm-dog breed since her 18th birthday, when she was given a corgi named Susan.

According to the London Times, Her Majesty also prepared Christmas stockings filled with doughnuts and chocolate drops for her pets this year.

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