Belfast police seize dogs from Kirkwood family banned from keeping animals
Police have seized dogs from the family at the centre of one of Northern Ireland's most notorious cruelty cases - who are banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed last month that Jeremiah Kirkwood, who admitted to what was described at the time as one of the "vilest examples of premeditated animal abuse", was the subject of the new welfare investigation.
In 2014, Kirkwood and his sons Chris and Wayne admitted allowing a cat to be torn to shreds by dogs trained to fight.
They also pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to four puppies and to having equipment connected to animal fighting.
A fourth man, Jamie Morrow, admitted similar charges.
Last month, it was revealed that Kirkwood senior was facing a new probe after dogs were discovered at his east Belfast home.
He was cautioned over "animal welfare issues" and a Belfast City Council investigation was launched.
Two dogs were understood to have been found in the house, which was a breach of the court-ordered ban, but it was not known if any animals were removed from the property.
However, yesterday police confirmed they had seized two dogs following a fresh search.
Police officers said the proactive search was carried out at a house in the Lower Newtownards Road area under animal welfare legislation. The Belfast Telegraph understands this to be the Kirkwood home.
During the search, the two dogs were located and seized. A 22-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of obstructing police while a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault on police. Both men have since been released following the issue of penalty notices of disorder.
Inspector Keith Hutchinson said: "I would urge any member of the public to report anything to do with fighting offences, other criminal activity and/or a possible breach in a court order to their local police station on the non-emergency number 101.
"Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
There was a public outcry in 2014 when the men avoided jail and were handed six-month suspended sentences. They were disqualified from keeping, owning or controlling animals for 10 years.
The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals branded their actions "wickedness at its worst".