TWO dogs which are thought to be a banned breed have been seized and their owner arrested as part of a unique police investigation for the town.
A warrant was issued this morning under the laws of the Dangerous Dogs Act which allowed police to seize the dogs - thought to be pit bulls - and arrest their 21-year-old owner.
Police say they were acting on a tip that was given to them by a worried member of the public who feared the dogs were the banned breed.
Sgt John Crapper, who led the investigation, said it is the first case of its kind that his team has dealt with. He added: "A case like this is a bit of a rareity - its the first one anybody on this team has investigated but obviously we have to act when we are given information like this. Imagine if we didn't and the unthinkable happened."
The dogs have been sent to a police unit which specialises in identifying dangerous dogs that are prohibited under the act. The man has been bailed pending the outcome of these inquiries - but if the dogs are found to be a banned breed he faces prosecution and the dogs could be destroyed.
Sgt Crapper added: "The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced because of a number of awful incidents concerning these dogs. The problem is that people assume you see a lot of pit bulls walking around, you think you see them everywhere because there is quite a confusing proliferalion of breeds and people get pit bulls, staffies and bull mastiffs mixed up.
"I've seen pictures of some of the cross breeds myself and would challenge anyone to tell them apart - that's why we have these experts who are trained in identifying them."
The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991 and prohibits specific breeds of dog from being bred, sold or purchased. It set out a registration scheme for owners which allowed them to keep their pets - but only if they met stringent regulations. The dogs had to be chipped, tattooed, neutered, muzzled at all times when they were out and homed in adequate, secure areas.
Any other dogs "appearing... to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose" are also banned.