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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 18:11 GMT
Police dog blinded after fans' battle
Police dog
An operation failed to save the dog's sight
A police dog has been partially blinded after getting caught in a pitched battle between rival fans at a match between Swansea and Bristol City.

Alsatian Major lost his sight after glass shards flew off bottles smashed on the road in front of his police handler.

Major underwent an operation on Wednesday to remove the shards of glass - but surgeons were unable to save the sight of his right eye.

Following his injuries, the dog - commended several times during his three years with South Wales Police - will have to retire from police service.

Police
Police were called to the clash between fans

Five-year-old Major was injured when he was on duty with handler Pc Robert Hallett near Swansea City's Vetch Field soccer ground.

They were in a riot squad called to clashes between Swansea and Bristol City fans before the Division Two soccer match on Tuesday night.

Fans from both teams hurled bottles, bricks and planks of wood at Major and other police dogs on duty.

'Vicious attack'

Three police officers were also hit by flying debris but sustained only minor injuries and did not need hospital treatment.

Major was taken by Pc Hallett to Bristol University vet school where he underwent an emergency operation.

"Unfortunately surgeons were not able to save his sight," a South Wales Police spokeswoman said

"His police career has been cut short by a vicious attack by soccer hooligans.

"A group of them targeted Major and other dogs by throwing bricks, bottles and stones at them and Major was right in the line of fire."

'We got it wrong'

In his retirement Major will carry on living at the home of Pc Hallett and his family.

Police have set up an inquiry team into the rioting which caught them completely unprepared.

Police were unaware that more than 200 Bristol followers, not wearing their colours, slipped into Swansea.

"The indications before the match was that Bristol City would be supported by families," Superintendent David Jenkins admitted

"We thought we were going to have a peaceful match but we accept we got it wrong and there will be an inquiry."

No arrests were made but police have said they will take action if they identify the fans caught on CCTV cameras.

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