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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Beast of Dartmoor 'is my pet dog'
Dartmoor animal: pic Martin Whitley
The creature was spotted near a group of schoolchildren
An animal dubbed the Beast of Dartmoor after photos were taken of a hairy four-legged creature was actually a pet dog, its owner claims.

Newfoundland Troy, who weighs 12 stone (76kg), is no man-eater, said her owner Lucinda Reid from Heathfield.

"He's a gentle giant. My five-year old daughter lies on top of him," she said.

The mystery of the "beast" arose after falconer Martin Whitley took a picture of a wandering figure near Hound Tor. He maintains it was a big cat.

The photo of a black-haired animal near a group of schoolchildren could be a wild boar, some said.

Others conjectured it could be a big cat or a weird new hybrid.

He's a gentle giant
Lucinda Reid
But Troy is just the family pet of the Reid's who say he would never harm a flea.

School cook Mrs Reid, 36, told BBC News: "When I saw the photo I thought it was like a Newfoundland.

"Then I saw that it was Hounds Tor where we go every weekend.

"It had to be Troy. I have never seen another Newfoundland up on the moor."

She said that Troy's black coat and large size led some people to call him a bear.

Martin Whitley said his photo was of an animal the size of a pony

But he was not the least grizzly.

"My five year-old daughter Summer lies on top of him.

"Some people are quite scared of him because he's so big, but he's a gentle giant."

Mr Whitley is adamant that the creature in his photograph is most likely a big cat roaming the moor.

He said: ''We have most definitely discounted it as a Newfoundland. Its whole figure was wrong and the coat was a different texture.

''The creature I saw was black and grey and comparable in size to a miniature pony. It had very thick shoulders, a long, thick tail with a blunt end and small round ears."


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