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Reevel Alderson reports
"German MEPs say they will attempt to extend the band Europe-wide"
 real 56k

Phli Buckley, Kennel Club
"It's a case of mistaken identity"
 real 28k

Friday, 11 August, 2000, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Tory in dogfight to save breed
Staffordshire terrier
A child died in an attack in Germany
A campaign has been launched to prevent one of Britain's most popular breeds of dogs being banned by the European Parliament.

Scottish Tory MEP, Struan Stevenson, said "urgent action" was needed to stop a ban on Staffordshire Bull Terriers and other popular breeds.

Mr Stevenson said he had received a flood of letters and e-mails from constituents, concerned that a ban would lead to the destruction of the dogs.

Steps have already been taken in Germany to ban the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, along with a number of other breeds after a six-year-old boy was killed.

He was savaged by a pit bull and an American Staffordshire in a school playground in Hamburg.

Struan Stevenson
Struan Stevenson: "Inundated with letters and e-mails"
The Kennel Club, which organises the Crufts Dog Show, has warned that German MEPs want to extend the ban to the entire EU. This would include English Mastiffs and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

It warned that the breed was being confused with American Staffordshire Terriers - powerfully built dogs similar to pit bull terriers and already banned in Britain.

Kennel Club spokesman Phil Buckley said problems could be eradicated if owners became more responsible for their dogs.

"Punish the deed, not the breed," he said. "Nine-and-a-half times out of 10, it is the owner, not the dog.

"Those are the people we need to be targetting, certainly."

Mr Stevenson said he has had more letters about the subject than any other since his election.

He has asked EU Justice Commissioner, Antonio Vitorino, to intervene.

'Family pet'

Mr Stevenson estimated that there were 250,000 Staffordshire Bull Terriers in Britain and 2,000 in Germany.

In his letter to the commissioner, he said: "It is undeniable that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is descended from terrier and bull crosses developed in various parts of the United Kingdom for dog fighting and rat catching.

"However, over the past 200 years, the breed has developed far more as a family pet and is currently the ninth most popular breed in England.

"We need to act quickly to prevent the inclusion of this breed, and indeed other wholly 'innocent' breeds such as the Old English Mastiff and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, in the proposed dangerous dogs legislation."

Mr Stevenson said that the breed's gentle characteristics had often led to the use of dogs in Pets as Therapy programmes.

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See also:

26 Jun 00 | Europe
Dogs kill boy in Germany
02 Jun 00 | Europe
Dog pack kills elderly woman
29 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
How old is that doggie?
05 Jul 00 | UK
The law of the knee-jerk
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