POLICE have seized 22 dogs considered to be a danger to the public after their owners breached conditions imposed by the courts.

The owners had initially been granted leave by the courts to keep the animals but police say the dogs will now be humanely destroyed after owners did not adhere to the conditions.

Merseyside Police said the operation took place across the region today with dangerous dogs seized from properties in Bromborough, Birkenhead, Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens.

There are said to be 247 owners of dogs across Merseyside who are exempted under Dangerous Dogs Legislation, 130 of which are in breach of their conditions.

Chief Inspector Chris Gibson from the Matrix Serious Organised Crime Uniformed Services wing, said the action is solely in relation to banned breeds which have been given such exemptions by the courts.

He said: “As a result of the failure to adhere to the exemption conditions of the court and other aggravating factors, we identified and prioritised 42 of those dogs as a danger to the public and have taken the required action this morning.

"So far 22 dogs have been seized as part of the operation. The dogs seized by officers today will be humanely destroyed.”

Chief Inspector Gibson stressed that the force does not want to “demonise all dogs, or their owners” but said action would be taken against those who have breached the conditions imposed.

He said: “Let’s be clear, these dogs pose a danger to the public, as well as to the families where they are housed.

“Invariably the people who keep these dogs, keep them as a status symbol and are not responsible dog owners.

“I’m sure that if you were to ask members of the public there aren’t many who would be happy living next door to someone who owns one of these dogs and does not take their responsibilities seriously, and I’m sure there aren’t many who would be happy to let their children, or grandchildren play out in the street if one of these dogs was in the vicinity.

"These dogs are fighting dogs, they are not designed to be family pets.

"Where owners have made applications to the court and have been granted an exemption it is up to that dog owner to adhere to the conditions and prove responsible dog ownership.

"If those owners are not prepared to abide by the conditions imposed, we have no alternative but to take the action we have undertaken today to keep our communities safe.”

Three people – including two children - have been killed on Merseyside since 2007 after being attacked by dogs and police say they want to ensure other families do not suffer the loss of a loved one as a result of an attack by a dangerous dog.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy added: “We are a nation of animal lovers and dogs make fantastic pets and companions.

“However, sadly here on Merseyside we have seen the devastating consequences of what can happen when irresponsible dog owners refuse to control their animals. 

“Nobody should suffer serious injury or lose their life because an individual has failed to control an already banned breed of dog.

"We have a responsibility to act to keep our children and grandchildren safe and when owners have failed to obey the orders of a court the force has no choice but to step in and remove these dangerous dogs from our community.”

Anyone with information on illegal dogs should call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.