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Council appeals for help with Staffords

Worcester City council has appealed for help from dog lovers following reports on a BBC news website that it was struggling to cope with the number of strays it is having to deal with, particularly in relation to Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Stafford crosses, which it believes may have been bred specifically for fighting.

The BBC News site reported that the Council had decided, “that any stray Staffordshire Bull Terriers it found in the future may put down as a matter of procedure". Worcester City Council has picked up 25 of the breed in three months and said some had scar tissue on them. The council, which is legally responsible for picking up stray dogs, also said it had put down six Staffordshire Bull Terriers since January.

Mr Martin Gillies, Enviromental officer, and Mr Ron Styles of Rhino Versatile Services who are the council’s contracted Dog Warden services, both stressed to Our Dogs that the problem has come about due to indiscriminate breeding by irresponsible owners out to make money and supply a demand much desired by youths to have what they think is a “macho image with a dog”.

Mr Gillies told Our Dogs: “The council is very proud of its record that no stray dog is ever put to sleep, unless it is found to be too aggressive to be re-homed or is in such poor health from cruelty or neglect, that it was a mercy to the dog to be put to sleep, but to be honest this is always so upsetting. It is a very worrying trend. It may be the case that Staffies are seen by some as a 'fashion accessory'. Alternative theories suggest the dogs may have been bred for fighting and with a number of the dogs appearing to have scar tissue it certainly gives weight to this theory.”
This sentiment was echoed by Ron Styles, who said he hates not being able to save any dog, as it is distressing to have to take a dog to the vets to be put to sleep.

Mr Gillies and Mr Styles have been in negotiations with West Mercia police to see if they can help look after the dogs rather than have to have them put to sleep. When asked if they knew of the contact details for rescues such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue, Mr Gillies said that the Council had not. This is the second time in the last three weeks a local council has told Our Dogs that they do not know of the Kennel Club’s rescue organisations directory.

Mr Jim Beaufoy, secretary of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, said that if the council would care to ring them they would supply Mr Gillies and Mr Styles with contact details, although as rescues around the country are full of Staffords and Stafford crosses it might be difficult to help solve the problem completely.

Mr Beaufoy agreed with the councils assessment that these dogs have been bred by irresponsible breeders to fullfil a market for a dog with a tough image, although the breed is a loyal family dog, totally different from the images conjured up by the national media.

Mr Gillies said that he had been very reluctant to contact even the BBC for fear of stirring up more bad press for a lovely, friendly breed, but felt he had little choice, as he really does not want to put any healthy dog to sleep. He added that already the council are beginning to see ‘designer dogs’ coming into rescue too, and they are worried about being flooded by these cross breeds, which were produced by irresponsible breeders to fill a fashion market. Mr Gillies has said that if anyone can help by offering a Stafford or Stafford cross a home they would be love to hear from them.

Worcester City Council said the matter would now be referred to the police.