Although the recent death of the 5 year old toddler Ellie Lawrenson in Merseyside is a tragedy for her family, it still remains a mystery as to how a young child found herself alone with an unsupervised dog and what happened to make the animal turn on the girl. Neither do we know the history of the Bull Terrier itself and the sort of treatment it had received at the hands of its owner. The very fact that this individual had been warned about the behaviour of his dog by the local authorities is perhaps significant and suggests a problem with him as an owner, as much as it does about the dog itself.
The introduction and implementation of the Dangerous Dogs Act by the Tories in 1991 did little more than to create a demand for what later became highly illegal and much sought after dogs. The media’s description of a highly combative and athletic canine simply fed a latent demand for these supposedly exotic and rare Pit Bull Terriers, a demand which was quickly met by any number of unscrupulous breeders, who were keen to make a fast buck out of the situation.
The much fanfared and highly publicized Bull Terrier seizures undertaken by the Merseyside Police force appear to represent a clear over-reaction to recent events, rather than an informed and balanced proactive approach to any illegal activities which may or may not be taking place within their force area. The very fact that the Police themselves have video-taped these recent raids and then made the pictures available to both regional and national news services, suggests that the real purpose of their actions is to try and convince the public of a growing menace to their safety and of the Police’s ability to deal with it.
These raids were reported to be as a result of information received from members of the general public who were concerned about the presence of the dogs in their neighbourhood. It obviously did not occur to the Police that the information might have been provided by a malicious individual whose prime motivation was driven by a neighbourhood dispute, rather than any sort of public spirited altruism.
Had the fate of the seized dogs not been fairly inevitable, with their facing a possible death sentence, the whole scene might have been laughable. Here we have a number of highly dangerous dogs that are supposedly used for dog fighting, being handled by unprotected officers and sitting side by side in the back of a van. There were no obvious signs of the dogs being aggressive, either to the people bundling them into the vehicle, or to the other dogs and for the large part they appeared to be extremely passive animals, which would be strange behaviour for a fighting dog.
What was equally alarming about these raids was the unquestioning acceptance of the facts by the media who accepted the assertion that the animals seized were Pit Bull Terriers and did not take the opportunity to question or test these allegations. The BBC, along with the other news providers should be duty bound to test any such statements and offer the viewer an alternative argument to the case being presented, something that they singularly failed to do in this particular instance.
It was also apparent, that a number of these so-called American Pit Bulls appeared to be nothing more than Blue Irish Staffordshire Bull Terriers, a canine hybrid which is unique to the UK. These dogs are a mixture of two other breeds, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the English Bull Terrier, both of which are native to this country and both legally recognised and legitimately owned.
These Blue Irish Stafford’s are renowned for their athleticism and more importantly for their reliability towards people. Thought to have first appeared in the UK more than 20 years ago, the breed has been extensively refined and developed to produce one of the healthiest and psychologically sound dogs in the country.
Within the dog fighting fraternity, these Blue Bull Terriers are regarded as a joke, simply because they lack both the physical ability and the combative temperament to compete within such an arduous environment. There are no serious dog men within mainland Britain that would use such dogs for any illegal activities, as they would represent a complete waste of time and money for them.
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