ABANDONED Staffordshire bull terriers now take up as many as 80% of the spaces at animal charity kennels, it emerged today (Mon).
And many perfectly healthy “staffies” face having to be destroyed as a result of owners abandoning their pets.
Charities say the Scottish government must take urgent action to control breeding of the animal.
Staffies have acquired a reputation as highly aggressive dogs and are kept for protection by some criminals.
But the problem of abandoned staffies has got so bad that the manager of one animal charity is presenting MSPs with a 500-signature petition to control the breed.
Ian Robb said that of the 53 spaces for dogs at his kennels in Arbroath, 41 are presently staffies.
He blames the situation on drug dealers and criminals over-breeding the dogs and selling the puppies for around £100 each. The animal’s reputation means they are rarely re-homed.
He said: “The reason I am raising this petition is to make the Scottish Parliament aware of the tragic situation of this specific breed of dog.
“Our aim is to get people to stop breeding these dogs.
“It’s a worrying and a sad situation. It’s getting to the critical point that the Government are going to need to take action.”
Mr Robb, of Angus Help for Abandoned Animals, said that across Scotland is was estimated that staffies took up 40% of spaces in charity kennels.
“If this is to continue then we ourselves will have to choice but to put young healthy dogs down. It’s just so sad.”
The Scottish SPCA also said that it had more staffies than any other dog.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “There is currently a very large problem with the number of unwanted Staffordshire bull terriers, especially in the West of Scotland.
“We have many staffies in our care at our Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centres all over Scotland, as anyone visiting the rehoming section of our website will see.
“Many visitors to our Centres will not even consider or enquire about staffies and the strain on our resources is immense.
“Staffies are wonderful dogs which deserve good homes, not to be discounted due to an unfair reputation. The tragedy is that so many dogs are living in kennels when they could be enjoying life as part of a family.”
David Ewing, manager of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, said that they have around 20 staffies out of around 100 spaces.
He said: “This is a major problem that we have got and I do think that some legislation will have to be brought in.”
Mr Ewing believes a dog licensing scheme should be brought in, along with compulsory pet insurance.
“Not so long ago people wouldn’t even look at a greyhound because they weren’t looked upon as suitable pets – now we rarely see them in here because the demand is so high.
“I just hope people start to realise staffies make great pets too.”
Mr Robb is taking his petition with 514 signatures to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tues).
He already has the support of many MSPs including Graeme Dey, SNP MSP for Angus South, who said: “Ian has highlighted a significant issue and I am delighted that the Petitions Committee has agreed to look at it.’’
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “It’s extraordinary that so many of Scotland’s abandoned dogs are of this single breed, and breeders and buyers alike really need to be more responsible with them. It’s simply an act of cruelty to buy dogs without being properly committed to looking after them.
“We also need more people to offer abandoned staffies good homes to live in. They are a great breed, and, although their name may suggest they’re fierce, the Kennel Club describe them as affectionate, especially with children.”
The Scottish Government declined to say if they were supporting the move but said in a statement that they took animal welfare “very seriously” and the act of abandoning staffie “is completely unacceptable in any circumstances”.