The future of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the UK has been debated in parliament this week, following views submitted by PETA as part of a consultation to the Commons’ environment, food, and rural affairs committee.
PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – had suggested that the breed should be added to the list of dangerous dog breeds on the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, essentially making it illegal to own or breed Staffordshire Bull Terriers, with a few exceptions.
In a statement on their website, the organisation said: “Staffies are currently flooding UK animal shelters and have become by far the most commonly abandoned breed of dog in the country. They’re also one of the most abused.
In fact, the RSPCA has confirmed that 80 per cent of its cruelty-to-animals prosecutions concern Staffies
“The breed is also the most likely to be abducted and used by criminal gangs for fighting rings or as guard dogs.
‘Given how vulnerable these dogs are to abuse, neglect, and abandonment, why would anyone fight the introduction of legislation that would prevent people from bringing more of them into a world that treats many so cruelly?’
The added that those who already own a Staffy should be allowed to keep them, with the proviso that the dogs are neutered, and that the owners are responsible individuals.
Other animal welfare charities, however, have spoken out against their call.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home strongly opposed the ban, saying: “We have, and always will, champion Staffies for their loving, gentle and loyal natures. Last year we re-homed 350 Staffies that have become wonderful, life-changing companions and their new owners constantly tell us that these dogs make a wonderful addition to their family.
“Staffies are a much-maligned breed that don’t deserve a bad reputation. We know that in the right environment, and with the right owners, Staffies can and do make ideal family pets.”
In a joint statement to the Government, asking them not to add Staffies to the list, Battersea, Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, the RSPCA, and Kennel Club said:
“The leading animal welfare organisations strongly believe that current breed-specific legislation should be repealed and replaced with legislation which targets irresponsible owners and not dogs guilty of nothing other than looking a certain way”
“Last year they were the twelfth most popular breed in the UK based on Kennel Club registration figures.
“There is no scientific evidence that suggests the breed is any more dangerous than any other type of dog.
‘If the Government decided to ban this breed, tens of thousands of innocent dogs would be seized from their loving homes and held in kennels for long periods of time whilst the court system decided what to do with them.”
The suggestion prompted an outcry from Staffy owners throughout the country with Steven Quinn setting up an online petition which garnered 163,000 signatures.
Rebuking PETA’s statement, Quinn said on the petition: “PETA, an organisation that is meant to be dedicated to protecting animals, has proposed to the UK government that it should add Staffordshire Bull Terriers to the Dangerous Dogs Act, effectively banning them outright.
“Breed Specific Legislation is not the solution to the problem of dog attacks
Speaking with Stoke Live, Quinn continued: “Many people in the UK today have the pleasure of owning a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. As one of these people, I can recommend them as being loving, loyal and caring, far from dangerous they are great companions.
“It would be a terrible tragedy for the dog lovers of the UK to lose the right to own one of these great companions.
“We are calling on Parliament to save our Staffies and not have them banned as dangerous dogs, because they are not.
With over 100,000 signatures, parliament was obliged to discuss the notion, and it seems MPs are very much in agreement with Mr Quinn.
George Eustice MP. the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, closed the debate saying: “The Government has no plans at all to add Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any other type of dog, to the list of prohibited dogs.”