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Peta and Staffies: Why the call to eradicate the breed has to end

Peta has called for Staffordshire Bull Terriers to be sterilised, claiming it's the best thing for the breed. But shouldn't the focus be on irresponsible owners, not the dogs?

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Ellie Roddy
Senior writer and blogger

Once again Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) - a charity that claims to protect animals, is pushing for Staffordshire Bull Terriers - a loyal, loving family dog, to be eradicated.

In 2018, during a government consultation of the Dangerous Dog Act 1991, the charity called for Staffies to be added to it claiming, at the time, that it was, 'best for the dog.' If they had been, it would have made it illegal to own the breed in the UK.

Dogs aren't inherently dangerous but there is still a misconception that certain breeds are. Just calling for Staffies to be added to such an outdated law only fuels the stereotype that they are aggressive and something to be feared, when the reality is that they are incredibly gentle and affectionate.

Not only were Staffies not added to the Dangerous Dog Act but just a year later they were named the top breed out of 100 on Britain's Top Dog 2019.

Despite this, the charity is now pushing its agenda again, stating that they should be sterilised after a woman was sadly mauled to death by what has been described as a 'Staffie cross.'

Peta's director Elisa Allen said: "The way to prevent more attacks is to stop these types of dogs from being bred. As they're often born only to be abused by 'macho' men - something which is best achieved through anti-breeding legislation and sterilisation. It is of the utmost urgency that we take these steps to protect humans and other animals."

If Peta honestly believes in the ethical treatment of animals, is the answer really to wipe out an entire breed due to no fault of its own? Or should we be looking at the irresponsible owners?

In the wrong hands, Staffies' loyal nature can be used against them and they are powerful, so of course, they have the ability to cause harm when trained to do so but so do humans - should we be sterilised too?

Although they may currently receive the brunt of the negativity, Staffies aren't the first dog to be labelled as 'dangerous' and they no doubt won't be the last.

If Peta is truly concerned for the welfare of this misunderstood breed, the charity should be pushing for more to be done in terms of education around why dogs become aggressive alongside harsher punishments for those mistreating them.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is just one prominent animal charity that does just this. It campaigns to show Staffies are 'softer than you think' and has called for an end to Breed Specific Legislation.

A report conducted by the charity in 2016 looked at the failings of the Dangerous Dog Act and found that 74% of top canine behaviour experts in the UK do not believe breed is relevant when determining aggression levels in dogs.

Peta are right about one thing - much more does need to be done to protect the breed from mistreatment but eradicating them is certainly not the way to do it.

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