The operation, which included seizing 13 dogs in the North Devon area, was sparked after a Barnstaple couple were found to be breeding pit bull-type dogs.

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POLICE have seized a total of 26 pit bull type-dogs across Devon and Cornwall as part of Operation Doorstop Two.

Officers visited 42 addresses after Barnstaple couple Stephen and Tracey Tewkesbury pleaded guilty to owning and possessing ‘dangerous’ dogs earlier this year.

Including the three dogs seized from the Tewkesburys, police also seized seven from Barnstaple, two from Bideford, three from South Molton and one from Torrington.

Further dogs were also seized under the operation as far away as Exeter, Plymouth, Tavistock, Torquay, Chudleigh and Newquay.

All of the dogs were returned to the owners subject to contingent destruction orders, except for one which was put down at the request of the owner.

Police confirmed each dog was held in council-licensed kennels for an average of 31 days, and worked closely with the courts to ensure early court dates.

Detective inspector Praveen Naidoo, of Barnstaple CID, said; “During the course of this operation officers worked with local charities including the North Devon Animal Ambulance and the RSPCA and we would like to thank them for their support.

“Six dogs have come to our attention following media articles and we would like to also thank those owners for coming forward.

“We are now looking at how we will monitor those dogs that are subject to CDOs to ensure continued compliance with the order.”

Sergeant Tony Whitting, from the force dog section said: “The process of returning a dog to its owner can take some time; we work with the courts to expedite the court hearing and if a contingent destruction order is granted we endeavour to complete the required veterinary work to comply with the order as soon as possible.

“Any seized dog is kennelled in council licensed kennels where the staff have experience of dealing with these types of dog, they are well looked after and fed correctly.

“Some dogs do get stressed in kennels and will lose weight.

“We do everything we can to minimise this and return the dogs registered as quickly as possible which will reduce the stress but every dog copes differently.

“If a seized dog has a medical condition then a vet sees them and it is treated accordingly.

“Unfortunately someone breeding illegal dogs in this area has caused this problem.

“People should research and know what type of dog they are purchasing so this doesn’t arise.”

Sgt Whitting reminded owners it was a criminal offence to own a ‘dangerous’ dog unless it is exempted.

“If the court allows the dog to be returned following the issue of a Contingent Destruction Order the owner has two months to comply,” he said.

“The police cannot progress this any quicker unless the dog owner completes certain administrative requirements. The onus on that is squarely with the dog owner.

“It would be illegal to return the dog until it is registered.”

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