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    Police launch “doghunt” for 100 illegal pit-bulls in Devon

    NewsWednesday 22 May 2013
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    Police in Devon have launched a major operation to hunt down more than 100 illegal pit-bull type dogs that were illegally sold by a couple in the area.
     
    Steven and Tracey Tewskesbury pleaded guilty in court to owning and possessing the potentially dangerous breed of pitbull. This plea was made in North Devon Magistrates’ court.
     
    The pair both lived in Jordan Close in Newport, Barnstaple and admitted owning three dogs from the illegal breed called Motor, Troy and KC.
     
    Steven Tewkesbury also owned a website which contained information about dog fights and also claimed that one of his dogs was bred from an infamous fighting dog called Psycho.
     
    The police yesterday said that they knew about 37 of the dogs that were bred and sold by the couple in the two counties of Devon and Cornwall however nationally there are thought to be 100 with families.
     
    The families buying the dogs are not to be blamed as the dogs were sold and marketed as “Irish Staffords” which are legal dogs to own. The police force has now launched  Operation Doorstop 2 to try and identity all the 100 dogs sold by the couple.
     
    Leading the investigation Praveen Naidoo said that "The operation is intelligence-led. The aim is to identify pitbull-type dogs that are in the community having been sold by Mr and Mrs Tewkesbury as 'Irish Staffords' and ensure that the risk any dog may present is mitigated by use of Court orders.
    "So far, we have identified approximately 37 people in Devon and Cornwall who may have purchased dogs from this couple and in excess of a hundred nationally.

    "Whilst it is a criminal offence to own a pitbull-type dog, unless there are aggravating circumstances around the ownership of the dog it will not be our intention to prosecute owners. Our priority is to ensure that any risk the dog may present to the community and the family in which it is resident is mitigated.
    "A number of pitbull-type dogs have already been seized as a result of this operation and we are working closely with the courts to ensure orders are obtained in relation to the dogs promptly."

    It is unknown what will happen to the dogs once found. Tony Whitting who is a police Sergeant said that there are two possibilities. The first is that the dog can be destroyed under an official court order. The second is that it could be returned to it’s owners if it is not deemed as dangerous.
    He said "If a pitbull-type dog is returned it must be owned under certain strict conditions. These are that it is micro chipped, tattooed, insured, neutered, muzzled in public and kept on a lead and held by someone 16 or over,"

    Juding from the website it would seem that Mr Tewkesbury was an experienced breeder and knew a lot about the dogs he was breeding. It was only recently that the couple became aware the dogs were illegal.
    He commented that
    "We didn't know until last year they were illegal type dogs,". "The 'pitbull Act' was for pitbulls, I was unaware of the amendment for type dogs."
    "It's not the sort of thing you do to go home and look on the internet to see if there have been changes to the law,"
    He insisted that his dogs were not dangerous and that they had been brought up as family dogs with the family’s children.
     
    The couple will return to the court to be sentenced. It is not yet clear what will happen to their dogs.
     
    The police operation continues.
     
    In the UK the breeds that are illegal are the
    ·                                 Pit Bull Terrier
    ·                                 Japanese Tosa
    ·                                 Dogo Argentino
    ·                                 Fila Braziliero
     
     
    Photo: Wikimedia
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