Animal charities struggle to cope as hundreds of Staffordshire bull terriers wrongly branded dangerous dogs are abandoned
By Lynn McPherson
12 Jan 2014
AS vets are asked to put healthy dogs down because charities do not have the space or resources to keep them while looking for new owners, campaigners say something must be done to restore the reputation of the family-friendly breed.
Charities say the dogs are being unfairly tarnished
HUNDREDS of Staffordshire bull terriers are being abandoned after being wrongly branded dangerous dogs, campaigners warned yesterday.
Animal charities say they are struggling to cope as dozens of the dogs are handed in or dumped at shelters every month.
Vets are being asked to put healthy dogs down because charities do not have the space or resources to keep them while looking for new owners.
The surge in Staffies being abandoned is blamed on overbreeding and a misguided public perception that the muscular dogs are aggressive.
But campaigners say most of the attacks blamed on Staffies are down to crossbreeds and bad owners.
They insist the reputation of family-friendly, pure-bred bull terriers is being unfairly tarnished – something owner Anna Murray would agree with.
Her baby daughter Dana has formed a close bond with the family pet Ellesa.
Animal rights campaigner Kay Hamilton, the Dowager Duchess of Hamilton, chairs Scottish Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue and says that the number of unwanted animals they are asked to rehome has jumped from 200 to 400 in the past three years.
More than 20 were handed in over the Christmas period alone.
Kay said: “We cannot cope with any more dogs. Christmas and New Year was hell on earth with the amount of dogs dumped on us.
“It infuriates me how Staffies are labelled as there is nothing wrong with the nature of the dogs.
“We recently had one dog which had been put in a tumble dryer. But even our cruelty cases have the most wonderful temperaments. They don’t turn on people, they love people.
“The problem is backstreet breeders looking to make a few quid and crossing Staffies with other breeds.”
She also explained how some animals are rehomed without the suitability of the families being taken into account.
But for other dogs there is a happier outcome.
One Staffie, Billy, was dumped with a vet to be put to sleep, but he took pity on the animal and funded the treatment for its minor skin condition himself.
Billy was then given to a rescue charity, who placed him in a foster home. Foster carer Julie Woods, of Tranent, East Lothian, said: “We’ve had Billy for two months and he’s lovely.
“Staffies get such an undeserved reputation as they are good with kids. Billy really deserves a good home.”
But as Billy waits to be placed with a family, the reality facing many more Staffies is grim.
In August, a Staffie cross was found abandoned with a lead attached at the top of a Highland mountain pass.
And on New Year’s Day, a family’s missing crossbreed was found dumped in a bin in Edinburgh.
Staffordshire bull terriers are the modern descendants of the old bull and terriers breed, used in bear and bull baiting until the mid-1800s.
They were first registered as a show breed in 1935 and have become popular around the world for their courage and their friendly nature.
They are especially good with children, earning them the nickname “the nanny dog”.
Staffies are often wrongly accused of attacks when crossbreeds, who may have been mistreated by cruel owners, are to blame.
Our sister paper the Daily Record has campaigned for more curbs on Scotland’s dangerous dogs after 6000 incidents in five years.
Last February, 18-month-old Millie McCue suffered serious facial injuries after she was mauled by a bull terrier in Possil, Glasgow.
In August, Jade Wilson, 14, needed 56 stitches after another bull terrier locked its jaws on her face in Summerston, Glasgow.
Sandy Murray, 34, suffered horrific injuries last month when his own Staffordshire-collie cross sank its teeth into his throat as he suffered an epileptic fit in his garden in Larkhall, Lanarkshire.
And Jude Keir needed 40 stitches after an attack in 2011 near the gates of Woodhead Primary in Hamilton. Again, a crossbreed was to blame.
Caroline Kisko, from the Kennel Club, said Staffies are often wrongly dragged into the debate surrounding devil dogs because people often assume that crossbreeds are the same thing.
She said: “I think the problem is that, more often than not, the dogs in these cases are not actually Staffies.
“People are talking about crosses that are not necessarily anything to do with the Staffordshire bull terrier.
“On top of that there’s the question of whether they’ve been properly socialised or raised.
“If you have a dog that hasn’t been raised properly, you can cause problems. That affects the perception of the bull terrier which is generally a lovely, well-mannered and sweet dog with people.”