How did monster 'devil dogs' arrive at Ulster farm?
Ten illegal fighting beasts are seized in raid on farm
Questions were being asked today about how a terrifying breed of illegal fighting dogs got into Northern Ireland.
Last weekend the USPCA swooped on a farm near Ballymoney and seized 10 bandogs.
This is the first time the breed has been found in Ulster.
The raid, which also involved Ballymoney Borough Council and the PSNI, took two adults and a litter of eight young bandogs, nicknamed 'devil' dogs, from the Stranocum farm following a tip-off from the public.
The dogs are a dangerous cross between a pit bull terrier and an English mastiff and can grow to the size of an Alsatian weighing seven or eight stone.
David Wilson from the USPCA said: "Bandogs are dogs with pit bull breeding and characteristics. The ones we found were pit bull crosses so they were illegal under the Dogs Order."
Ten of the huge 'bandogs' were seized by the USPCA and police from a farm near Ballymoney at the weekend.
It was the first time the illegal cross-bred bandogs have been detected by the authorities in Northern Ireland and concerns have been raised about how the dogs were brought into the province.
It is understood that the animals were seized on Saturday less than a mile from where a six-year-old girl was savaged by Rottweilers a month ago - although the two cases are not linked.
Two adults and a litter of eight young bandogs - a dangerous cross between a pit bull terrier and an English mastiff that is around the size of an Alsatian - will now be humanely destroyed, following the raid involving the USPCA, officers from Ballymoney District Council and the PSNI.
David Wilson from the USPCA said the animals can reach seven or eight stone in weight and are bred for fighting.
They were seized from the farm near Stranocum following a tip-off from a member of the public who became concerned after watching a recent Panorama documentary on dog fighting.
"Bandogs are dogs with pitbull breeding and characteristics. The ones we found were pitbull crosses so they were illegal under the Dogs Order," he said.
"This is the first time we have come across that particular breed. There were two adults and eight young dogs that were several months old - apparently they can grow to seven or eight stones in weight.
"There is a lot of mastiff in them, which gives them the size, and the pit bull gives them the aggression.
"Most of the animals were very young and we think they were getting the litter ready for sale - to England, probably."
The animals had been well looked after, Mr Wilson said. "Those dogs are worth a lot of money," he said.
"The dogs are bred for aggression - they might be quite meek and mild when you see them, but put them in a situation with another dog and you have a fight on your hands.
"They are dangerous dogs under the Dogs Order and they are not dogs that should be kept around people.
"Those dogs are condemned to a life of suffering - there is no life for them."
Mr Wilson said the USPCA was grateful to the public for the information it had received and encouraged others to report any suspected dangerous dogs.
A PSNI spokesman confirmed that officers assisted a partner agency on Saturday but no arrests have been made.
North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said the legislation needs to be overhauled so that the prosecution process becomes less cumbersome and the penalties greater.
"For some time I've had concerns about the Dogs Act and how it's being implemented and who is responsible for implementing it," he said.
"If you look at the sentence following on from the Birmingham case, I think people would be prepared to take the risk. It's a cumbersome and long process to bring somebody to book for these issues.
"They need to establish laws that clearly identify the type of dogs that are illegal and imposes penalties that will make people realise this is a business they ought not to be in."