A DOG named Mutley has won a reprieve from destruction after the judge praised his "responsible" owner.
Anthony Iles, from Trembath Crescent in Newquay, appeared at Truro Magistrates' Court on Friday alongside Samuel Aaron Docherty, from Eastbourne Road, St Austell.
Both were facing the potential of their pit bull terriers being put down, due to them being an illegal breed.
They had each separately bought the puppies believing they were Staffordshire bull terriers, a legal breed.
The court heard how Mr Iles had read a newspaper article about how Barnstaple-based Steven and Tracey Tewkesbury – who they bought their pets from – had been selling illegal breeds.
Mr Iles immediately contacted police to tell them he suspected Mutley was in fact a pit bull.
"Mutley was advertised as an Irish blue Staffordshire bull terrier and we had no reason not to believe this," Mr Iles told the magistrates.
"So when I saw this advert in the paper I was horrified. But as soon as I knew, I contacted the police."
Mr Docherty had bought his dog, Bruno, locally in St Austell. His vet told him of his suspicions about Bruno's breed and he also called the police himself for advice.
"I would be lost without him," Mr Docherty told the court.
Fiona Roberts, chairman of the magistrates, said: "As much as these dogs are pit bull terriers, I can see they are very much family pets and I can see they are well loved."
Although the dogs are both illegal, the court heard how PC Phil Nankivell, a dangerous dog legislation officer, had assessed them both.
He had described them as "friendly," sociable" and "well behaved" and said that both owners were "very responsible".
Magistrates passed a contingent destruction order, meaning the family pets would be returned if their owners comply with certain conditions. Both defendants were ordered to have their dogs insured, neutered, microchipped, tattooed, kept secure and kept on a lead and muzzled in public.
When these conditions are met, Bruno, who is three years old, and Mutley, who is nearly five, will be returned to their owners, which is expected to be later this week.
The incident with Mr and Mrs Tewkesbury prompted police to launch Operation Doorstop, a nationwide search for pit bull-type dogs which came from the pair.
Mr Nankivell said after the court case: "It's a really emotive subject. It's not about the behaviour or temperament of the dog, it's about what the dog is capable of.
"No dog is born aggressive, but it's the dog of choice for people who want to use them for reasons they shouldn't. They are a man-made breed, originally bred for fighting."
If you have concerns, call PC Phil Nankivell on 101.