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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 08:34 GMT
Councillors back pitbull amnesty
Pitbull-type terrier
Ballymena council has proposed an amnesty for pitbull-type dogs
Councillors in Ballymena have backed a proposal to launch Northern Ireland's first pitbull terrier amnesty.

The council's environmental services committee supported the move which must now be ratified by the full council.

It is thought the amnesty will run for four weeks from January 2007. Dogs handed in would be destroyed.

Council dog warden Nigel Devine said a recent pitbull attack on a family out walking in Randalstown Forest prompted the move.

"What I don't want is people who have these dogs to dump them in the streets," he said.

"On Sunday, I picked up one which had been dumped, this is what we don't want.


"The reason behind this amnesty is so people can come forward and hand over their dogs without fear of prosecution.

Mr Devine said that while people were willing to buy pitbulls, illegal breeders would continue to supply them.

"It is well known that these dogs are unpredictable, therefore putting at risk anyone in contact with them," he added.

SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said the amnesty was a practical way of dealing with a serious issue.

"It is important not to exaggerate the problem out of proportion, but nevertheless there is a problem," he said.

It has been illegal to own pitbull terriers in Northern Ireland since 1976 as they are a proscribed breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

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