Avon and Somerset Police took on Tyson, a pitbull-cross, after he had appeared on Channel 5 show Dog Rescuers.
But when a police dog specialist later identified that Tyson, though a cross-breed, was still of the banned 'pitbull type', he had to be returned to the West Hatch RSPCA centre near Taunton.
Unable to legally rehome him under the Government's breed standard laws, the centre had no choice but to put him to sleep.
The RSPCA and the Police Tri-Force Specialist Operations Collaboration said they were “extremely upset” by what had happened.
Tyson was one of 12 dogs successfully rehomed to various police forces from the Taunton area animal centre.
The outcome has devastated police dog handlers and RSPCA staff who cared for and trained the 18 month-old dark brindle and white dog.
Inspector Dave Eddy, who oversees the Tri-Force Dog Section, said: “We are absolutely devastated Tyson had to be returned to West Hatch, and that due to being a banned breed, he had to be put to sleep in accordance with Dangerous Dog Act.
“It can be very hard to identify the dangerous breeds if they are mixed with other breeds that look similar such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
“In Tyson's case, it was our expert Dog Legislation Officers who identified the physical traits.
“A number of our drug and explosive search dogs are rescue dogs and include Labradors, Springer Spaniels and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
“PC Lee Webb who looked after Tyson was particularly upset. PC Webb already handles a rescue Staffie, PD Kos, who is an excellent search dog.
“We will continue to use rescue dogs and work with the RSPCA to use rescue dogs wherever possible.”
An RSPCA spokesperson commented: “All of the staff who cared for and loved him are incredibly upset that such a wonderful dog had to be put to sleep.”
They added: “Utimately poor Tyson illustrates the absurdity of the breed specific legislation and the Dangerous Dogs Act, and is another lovely dog who has paid the price because of it."
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs commented: “The laws on prohibited type dogs are there to protect people from types of dogs bred for fighting.”
A dog in Great Britain that was being trained for police work has been put to sleep after Dog Legislation Officers determined the dog to have physical characteristics of a pit bull.
The action proves that no matter the dog’s disposition, it is judged only for its appearance.
Avon and Somerset Police Department rescued Tyson from the RSPCA and worked with the dog for months training him to be a sniffing dog for the department.
Pit Bulls have been banned in the U.K. and Wales since 1991 under the Dangerous Dog Act.
There are no DNA tests to determine if a dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix since “pit bulls” are typically a various mix of breeds.
Dogs are typically labeled “pit bulls” by officers in jurisdictions where bans are in place by judging a number of different characteristics. In Miami, Fla., for example, an officer charged with enforcing the city’s ban uses a 47 point checklist with items such as body length, head size and markings.
Tyson was completing his training when he appeared on a local television show called Dog Rescuers.
After he was determined to be a pit bull mix, he was returned to the RSPCA’s West Hatch Rescue Centre, but because he was labeled a “dangerous breed,” the center had no choice but to put him to death.
"The outcome has devastated both police dog handlers and RSPCA staff who cared for and trained Tyson over a number of months,” the Avon and Somerset Police Department said in a statement.
The RSPCA added that the Breed Standard Laws "punishes certain types of dogs for the way they look and fails to consider a dog's individual behavior when determining whether or not they are dangerous.
"As a result, dogs whose behavior poses no risk are branded 'dangerous' just because of their appearance."
There are at least 57 municipalities in the United States with Breed Specific Legislation and the U.S. military has banned “pit bull type” dogs from its military housing.
Many of the leading animal welfare organizations, including Best Friends and the ASPCA denounce BSL.
“Although multiple communities have been studied where breed-specific legislation has been enacted, no convincing data indicates this strategy has succeeded anywhere to date,” the ASPCA position statement reads. “Conversely, studies can be referenced that evidence clear, positive effects of carefully crafted, breed-neutral laws It is, therefore, the ASPCA’s position to oppose any state or local law to regulate or ban dogs based on breed.”
The White House also took a stand against such laws last summer.
Tyson demonstrating his natural talents.
I am oh-so very certain the community was safer with this beautiful dog dead, instead of serving the public as a Detection Dog. *eye rolls* Training them is time-consuming and expensive, and it requires a very special dog to make the cut. They are such an incredible boon for any department that has them, and help people in so many ways. This is shameful in so many ways.