A recent proposal by People for the Ethical for the Ethical Treatment of Animals UK (PETA UK) to add the Staffordshire bull terrier (a/k/a “staffies”) to the list of dogs banned by the UK’s Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 met a dead end in Parliament on July 16. The proposal had arisen in response to a legal review conducted by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Once the PETA UK proposal surfaced, an e-petition campaign by owners and other supporters of the breed commenced, garnering nearly 180,000 signatures. [Petition Summary.] The petition called “on Parliament to save our staffies and not have them banned as dangerous dogs, because they are not. People create dangerous dogs, people are the problem.”
Adding the dog to the list of banned animals would have prohibited the breeding and keeping of such an animal barring certain exceptions. PETA UK stated in its press materials that it not only favored prohibiting the breeding of Staffordshire terriers, but also favored banning the breeding of any dog. The group justified the measure with the claim that many staffies were ending up in shelters and were allegedly the most commonly abandoned breed of dog in the country.
The topic was debated in the House of Commons on July 16 where it was reported that, in addition to individual owners and supporters of the dog, such a breed-specific legislation was opposed by animal welfare groups such as the Kennel Club, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Dogs Trust and Blue Cross. [07-16-18 Debates].
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, George Eustice, stated the government’s position:
“[T]he government have no plans at all to add Staffordshire bull terriers, or any other type of dog, to the list of prohibited dogs. Staffordshire bull terriers are a popular breed in this country and have shown themselves to be a good family pet. Like any dog, they should be socialised at an early age and be properly trained to avoid behavioural problems, but for anyone thinking of taking on a dog, there is no reason why a Staffordshire bull terrier should not be considered.”