Dog fighting and so-called 'status'dogs for protection has increased the popularity of 'bull-type' breeds such as Staffordshire bull terriers, and their crosses, on urban housing estates. Nearly half the dogs rescued by Battersea Dogs Home are 'staffies' and can be more difficult to re-home.
Presenter Mike Embley discovers how an unlikely alliance between teenage offenders and unwanted or abused dogs can give them both a second chance.
In Britain, a number of initiatives are following the lead of American schemes like Project Pooch, which has proved successful in preventing re-offending and teaching teenage offenders to take responsibility for their behaviour - while also helping the better-trained dogs find new homes.
Mike meets animal organisations leading the way, like The Dogs Trust which works with young offenders who have been sentenced to community service. The charity is also about to start another programme inside Feltham Young Offender Institution, while a similar scheme is already underway in Polmont Prison in Scotland.
He also speaks to Scottish veterinarian Elizabeth Ormerod, chair of the Society for Companion Animal Studies, who believes such programmes give offenders hope for the future when they see dogs they have trained being re-homed as 'model doggy citizens'. She believes interaction with dogs not only helps them understand animal behaviour but their own behaviour and the actions of others.
Producer: Sara Parker
A White Pebble production for BBC Radio 4.
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