Police are hunting more than 100 pitbull-type illegal dogs which were sold as family pets – but are actually descended from a notorious fighting champion called PSYCHO.
Officers fear dozens of buyers may have bought the animals without realising how dangerous they are or their vicious ancestry.
The appeal has been sparked after illegal breeders Steven Tewkesbury, 52, and wife Tracey, 48, pleaded guilty to possession and offering to supply dangerous dogs.
They passed them off as “Irish Staffords” – a breed which experts say does not exist – describing them as “wonderful, loyal” family pets.
But cops fear customers will have little idea of the terrifying threat they pose, particularly to young children.
Police were first alerted after a tip-off and found the couple’s website boasted that one of its breeding dogs is “descended from a famous fighting dog called Psycho”.
Detective Inspector Praveen Naidoo of Devon and Cornwall Police has warned the muscular “pets” could attack with the slightest provocation.
He appealed for customers to come forward pledging not to prosecute people who bought them accidentally.
Det Insp Naidoo said: “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.”
Mr and Mrs Tewkesbury were charged and appeared in North Devon Magistrates Court after police were tipped off about their business and website.
They admitted owning Motor, Troy and KC – all classified as illegal pitbull-types – and selling another illegal dog fathered by one of their animals.
They will be sentenced on May 21 when the court will also consider what should happen to their dogs.
Karen Ball, prosecuting, said: “The website gave a history of how Mr Tewkesbury began breeding Staffordshire terriers 10 years ago.
“It gives details of dogs which have been sold and also has information of famous dog fights.
“It also claims one of the dogs owned by Mr Tewkesbury is descended from a famous fighting dog called Psycho.”
Under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act it is illegal to breed pitbulls or similar crossbreeds.
Widely used in organised fights they were outlawed in Britain after a series of horrific attacks on kids.
Officers think the Tewkesburys sold the dogs to more than 100 buyers across the country.
Some of the animals may be used as status symbols, “weapon dogs” or to breed further generations of fighting dogs.
But others could have been innocently bought up by families and animals lovers who have no idea they are illegal.
One of the couple’s dogs, Motor, was offered for stud on the site at a cost of #350. There were also details of plans to have Motor and another dog, China, mate.
Cops raided the Tewkesbury’s home in Barnstaple, Devon, found four dogs – three identified as pitbull-types.
Tewkesbury, who represented himself and his wife in court on May 10, said he had only recently become aware they were illegal.
He said: “The ‘Pitbull Act’ was for pitbulls, I was unaware of the amendment for type dogs.
“We’ve had our dogs 11 years. We’ve had no complaints and have children who have been bought up with them. They’re our pets, they’re not a danger to society.”
Tewkesbury said his website detailed the history of certain breeds of dogs out of interest.
He added: “I’m dead against dog fighting. It’s just there as information, nothing more, nothing less.”
I consider many of the points made in this article as if they were facts to be without merit. True fighting dogs were not bred for human aggression, quite the contrary, and just because an ancestor was good at fighting does not necessarily mean the descendants will have that inclination or will be. Some dogs are dog aggressive and some are not; dogs are individuals. Yes, if deliberately bred for generations trying to select that trait there may be a greater proportion of ‘game’ dogs in that line, but again … that does not predispose them to being a threat to humans or blood thirsty killers looking to maul small children. They would most likely not pose any danger unless say they got into a fight with another dog and someone got in the way trying to break it up and was accidentally injured.
Stop the fabrication and demonizing of these dogs.
Excellent points made very clearly without hysteria! I wholeheartedly agree with you.
BSL has failed, face it. This law must come to an end, you can not control it as there are more pitts on the streets these days than there were in 1991!!
I am appalled that this means the death of 100dogs. These pups no matter what thier ancestory in the right hands will make beautiful loving family pets. many breeds have been used for barbaric sports by humans. Does this mean we should ban them all. Tarring an entire breed due to the cruelty and stupidity perpetrated upon it by humans is diabolical. To murder all of the dogs just incase an idiot owns one is crazy and abhorently cruel.
“how dangerous they are or their vicious ancestor was”??? The irresponsible owners are dangerous!
Really hope all of those dogs will be ok. Irish staff do exist… They are SBT but bred in old style to stop the mobility and breathless sbt that we see nowadays with “correct” KC standard sbt hence the name irish sbt.
Judge the deed not the breed or the line these dogs have not been taught to fight. This is like saying all dogs came from wolves so shot them if they get near your cattle. STOP THE IGNORANCE PLEASE
I am ashamed at the legal matter of all these dogs? First these dogs will be bad only if they are raised this way? It is humans who should be gathered up who train them to fight. Please don’t blame the dogs and as pups going to good homes that will only love them and teach them right it will not be fair to the dog or the human who love each other to seperate them. ONE the dog does not understand what is going on why he\she is torn apart from his\her pack family. And then put into prison while they await their execution for no crime committed. The lowest forms of humans get better justice then this. SHAME, SHAME on humans.
This is crazy, just because down the linage there is a fighting dog, does NOT mean that ancestors of thees dogs will be mean. Not sure where they get there information but think it was put out there to cause panic. What is going to happen now to these 100 dogs. This is just BS. Leave the dogs and their families alone. It is how they are raised that matters. Now 100 families are going to be torn apart and heart broken. LEAVE THEM ALONE!!
poor dogs 🙁