Abandoned Staffordshire Bull Terrier numbers rise

A young girl with two Staffordshire bull terriers
Image caption Staffordshire bull terriers used to be known at the 'nanny' dog in Victorian times

Animal rescue centres have warned of a steeper rise in the number of abandoned Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

The Dogs Trust has seen numbers taken in at its Bridgend site increasing two years running, while Cardiff Dogs Home said it regularly has high numbers.

North Clwyd Animal Rescue (NCAR) said they make up three quarters of the 90 dogs at its centre.

The terriers, often known as "Staffies," have become more popular in recent years.

Charities say they have an undeserved reputation as aggressive and make good pets in the right homes.

The NCAR held an open day near Prestatyn recently to highlight dogs' qualities as family pets and saw four animals re-homed.

Spokeswoman Nicky Owen said they wanted to change people's perception of the dogs.

Ms Owen said: "They are brilliant family dogs if brought up in the right way.

"They are fabulous family dogs. The problem is as soon as there is something in the press about a 'bull' breed, people who have these breeds get scared.

"Any dog can be aggressive, it just all depends on how they have been trained.

"They are quite a macho type but they're lovely. Some of them are strong. If you have a younger one, it will need a bit of training but they learn very quickly.

"You have to be on your guard with any dog. They are an animal. I would not leave any animal with a young child."

Ms Owen said the open day was designed to show the dogs "deserve a chance".

Image caption Registrations of Staffordshire Bull Terriers with the Kennel Club have almost halved since 2003

Around 200 people visited, including some returning to show how their former rescue dog had settled in with them, she said.

The Dogs Trust said it saw 83 Staffordshire bull terriers at its Bridgend centre in 2011, rising to 104 in 2012.

Already this year, 43 Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been handed into the centre.

A spokeswoman said: "They obviously have this bad reputation that is not entirely deserved. They can make good pets in the right homes. We don't have an issue re-homing them in Bridgend."

Cardiff Dogs Home said it had a "high number of Staffies or Staffie-types" at the home on a regular basis.

'Genuine affection'

A spokesman said: "The Staffies that come to the dogs home are in general lovely dogs with no behavioural issues, but end up with us as they were owned by individuals who had no intention of keeping the dog for its lifetime.

"From observations at the kennels it is extremely rare for them to show aggression towards anyone."

Kennel Club figures show the number of Staffordshire Bull Terrier registrations have dropped from 11,000 in 2003 to 6,000 in 2012.

Secretary Caroline Kisko said this fall as the number abandoned pets at animal centres was going up suggested unscrupulous breeders were selling them to irresponsible owners who do not meet the animal's lifestyle requirements.

She said: "Despite the undeserved negativity surrounding the breed at times, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a wonderfully friendly and trustworthy dog, traditionally known as the "nanny dog" because of its genuine affection towards children and its use in Victorian times as a nanny to youngsters."

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