With thousands of abandoned Staffies flooding its centres, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has launched a major campaign to reconnect people with the gentle nature of this misunderstood and increasingly shunned breed.
With thousands of helpless and abandoned Staffordshire bull terriers flooding its centres, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has launched a major campaign to reconnect people with the gentle nature of this most misunderstood and increasingly shunned breed.
Battersea’s “Staffies. They’re Softer Than You Think” campaign launched at Westminster yesterday, and is said to be the charity’s most ambitious initiative to date.
The initiative aims to challenge commonly held misconceptions surrounding the breed and highlight what fantastic pets they can be if only given the chance.
Once known as the “Nanny dog” for its affinity with children, the Staffordshire bull terrier’s previously good reputation has been seriously damaged. Staffies have been forced by a tiny minority of people to become aggressive, fighting dogs and even a substitute for a weapon in some of the country’s more challenging communities.
A YouGov survey of more than 2,116 GB adults, commissioned for Battersea, has revealed that as few as 10% of people now recognise the breed’s qualities as a family pet.
Claire Horton, chief executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, said: “More people consider the dog to be a fighting dog than a family dog. It’s time we gave the breed a chance and got to know Staffies for the lovely, friendly dogs they really are.
She added: “Thousands of proud and responsible Staffie owners will tell you that Staffies are gentle, loyal and a million miles away from the hard image they have been unfairly tarnished with.”
The YouGov research also found that:
- 18-24 year olds are more likely to describe Staffies as guard dogs (27%) or illegal dogs (14%) than family dogs (11%).
- Londoners are most likely to see the breed in their neighbourhood (41%) yet only 9% of Londoners admit to owning the breed, or knowing friends who own the breed.
- Almost a quarter of people (23%) base their knowledge of Staffies on what they have seen in news reports.
Battersea is concerned about the extent that Staffies are misunderstood. They are wrongly seen by many people as an illegal banned breed and are portrayed by the media as a danger to society. For the charity, this results in thousands of homeless Staffies coming through its doors hoping for a second chance in life.
Claire said: “We’re working with many proud, responsible owners to champion the positive qualities of the breed, as it’s vital that we tackle the issue at its source. Staffies will only stand a chance if we dispel the notion of a dog as a weapon or accessory in inner-city communities.”
- In the last year Battersea took in 2,470 Staffies – more than two thirds of which were strays.
- 15 years ago there were only 580 Staffies and Staffie crosses at Battersea.
- The average length of stay for a Staffie at Battersea is 63 days. A West Highland Terrier stays for just 23 days and a Golden Retriever only 9 days.
- To join the campaign, visit www.battersea.org.uk/dogs/get_involved.html