It is a very sad fact that this wonderfully friendly breed of dog, with a Kennel Club Pedigree Class for the past 80 years and from an historic line stretching back over 200 years, has acquired such a negative reputation in the minds of the general public in recent years.
Due largely to their overriding desire to please, they are easy to train and, unfortunately, those individuals that wish to use this trait to embed aggression find the Staffordshire is ideal for their warped aim.
As the RSPCA chief vet has said “they have had a terrible press, but this is not of their own making; in fact they are wonderful dogs. If people think that these dogs have problems then they are looking at the wrong end of the lead.”
The unfortunate effect of this small minority of bad owners is that the breed has become the stereotypical dangerous dog and this has had a terrible impact on the perception of them.
Press coverage of isolated incidents involving this terrier breed has only compounded the ‘reputation’, even when a closer examination of the facts often reveals that the owners were, in fact, irresponsible and largely to blame. The net result has been that a culture of fear has developed in the public’s mind and we hear the result of this on a daily basis at our centre. When people phone us with a general enquiry about the dogs we have at that time and we tell them about the Staffordshires we have, we are often met with a flat ‘oh no, I don’t really trust those types of dogs’ or words to that effect.
In fact we, at Borders Pet Rescue, take part in an annual survey run by the Association of Cat and Dog Homes, who are the overseeing body throughout Britain’s rescue centres. This survey takes a snapshot of the types and breeds of dogs we all have in on a particular day. The shocking result for the past three years, on average, has been that around 50% of all dogs in all the centres have been Staffordshire or Staffordshire Cross.
So, in other words, half of all dogs in rescue centres right across Britain come from just this one breed. The rehoming rate for these dogs is significantly slower, in general, than for other breeds and we regularly see them staying with us for a year, and often much longer.
Continued next week