TWO illegal Pit Bull-type dogs from Torquay and three from Chudleigh were seized by police in an operation across Devon and Cornwall.
The dogs may now face being put down along with 24 others identified as a possible danger to the community as part of Operation Doorstop.
The police operation was set up following the arrest and conviction of Stephen and Tracey Tewkesbury in relation to the selling of the illegal breeds.
Police visited 42 addresses across the two counties to identify dogs sold by the couple to 'mitigate any risk they presented to the community'.
In total 26 dogs were seized, excluding three seized from the Tewkesburys.
All the dogs with the exception of one which was put to sleep at the request of the owner have now been returned to their owners and are subject to Contingent Destruction Orders (CDOs).
A contingent destruction order means that the dog will be destroyed unless the owner conforms to certain conditions.The dogs must be entered onto the Index of Exempted Dogs. This entails having the dog neutered, microchipped, tattooed and insured and not allowing it to be off a lead or un-muzzled in a public place
A police statement says: "This operation has been a resounding success. Whilst we have chosen not to prosecute owners on this occasion, this will always be a consideration.
"Pitbull type dogs have the potential to cause significant harm and Devon and Cornwall Police will always take every step to ensure our communities remain a safe places to live.
"We are now looking at how we will monitor those dogs that are subject to CDOs to ensure continued compliance with the order."
Sergeant Tony Whitting, from the Force dog section said: "The process of returning a dog to its owner can take some time, we work with the Courts to expedite the Court hearing and if a Contingent Destruction Order is granted we endeavour to complete the required veterinary work to comply with the order as soon as possible. "Any seized dog is kennelled in council licensed kennels where the staff have experience of dealing with these types of dog, they are well looked after and fed correctly. Some dogs do get stressed in kennels and will lose weight. We do everything we can to minimise this and return the dogs registered as quickly as possible which will reduce the stress but every dog copes differently. If a seized dog has a medical condition then a vet sees them and it is treated accordingly.
"A vet sees every dog before it is returned to its owner.
"Unfortunately someone breeding illegal dogs in this area has caused this problem. People should research and know what type of dog they are purchasing so this doesn't arise.
"Police have to seize dogs which include Pit Bull Terrier-type dogs which are illegal to possess unless exempted as they are defined by the Dangerous Dogs Act. "There have been some very high profile and disturbing cases across the country where dogs of this type have killed.
"At this moment in time the police have no discretion following the latest guidelines from CPS but to seize this type of dog once one has been identified.
"It is a criminal offence to own such a dog unless it is exempted although the legislation does allow the facts to be placed before a court in a civil hearing so the court can decide whether the dog can be registered on the index of exempted dogs and returned under strict conditions or has to be euthanized.
"If the court allows the dog to be returned following the issue of a Contingent Destruction Order the owner has two months to comply.