MPs have debated whether one of Britain’s favourite dog breeds, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, should be added to the list of dangerous dogs.
In spite of PETA's calls for the breed to be banned, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, George Eustice, said the Government has no intention of banning Staffies.
Eustice said: “The Government have no plans at all to add Staffordshire bull terriers, or any other type of dog, to the list of prohibited dogs. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a popular breed in this country and have shown themselves to be a good family pet.”
The debate on 16 July was called after Staffie owner Steve Quinn’s petition to reject PETA’s campaign to add Staffordshire Bull Terriers to the banned dogs list gathered over 100,000 signatures.
PETA has been campaigning for Staffies to be added to the prohibited dogs list on the basis that the breed is “one of the most abused” in the UK. The charity is concerned by the increasing number of Staffordshire bull terriers being rehomed by shelters and the breed’s popularity among gangs who have been known to abduct Staffies and use them for fighting or protection.
But as Staffordshire Bull Terriers are favourite family pets across the nation, few agree they should be banned and many believe it is irresponsible owners that are the problem rather than the dogs themselves: “People create dangerous dogs, people are the problem,” concludes the Steve Quinn’s petition summary.
Several news outlets ran their own polls to find out whether their readers support the ban and received an overwhelming response in support of Staffies.
“I grew up with a Staffie, and know that they are not inherently a dangerous breed, however owning one does come with certain responsibilities. They are very powerful animals, and it’s important that an owner respects the fact that they have to be properly trained and raised in a way that doesn’t make them aggressive,” Dianne Ling who, along with her whippet, was recently attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier, told Echo-news.co.uk.
“What happens to me is because of the way those dogs were raised and the level of training they had had - it isn’t down to the dogs themselves. Instead of breeding laws, I would argue that we need more restrictive laws on who can own a dog in the first place, to stop them from being abused as well as becoming dangerous.”
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits ownership of four dog breeds - Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro. It is illegal to own a breed on the list without a special exemption from a court.
The act has long been surrounded by controversy with some charities and animal groups believing it should be dismantled altogether and that more should be done to promote responsible dog ownership instead.
“The leading animal welfare organisations strongly believe that current breed-specific legislation should be repealed and replaced with legislation that targets irresponsible owners and not dogs guilty of nothing other than looking a certain way,” said a number of animal welfare groups in a joint statement.
Even though many MPs agree that the legislation is flawed, the government indicated that it has to current plans to review it.
"We consider the prohibition on the four banned breeds to be a valuable tool in the battle against irresponsible ownership of dogs," said minister George Eustice. He said "the Government are not persuaded at the moment that there is a case for change" on the use of breed-based legislation.