Staffies They're Softer Than You Think
Four-year-old Dougie loves to play fetch with his favourite toy, having his tummy tickled and being given lots of cuddles and walks.
But as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, Dougie could be in for a 'ruff' deal when it comes to finding a loving home. He's one of a number of happy, healthy, Staffies, on the 'long-stay' photo wall at Oak Tree Animals' Charity at Wetheral.
Caroline Johnson, General Manager at Oak Tree, says they have a large number of Staffies on their waiting list:
"Dougie is a real sweetheart. He's been with us since March after someone handed him in to the charity. He likes nothing better than being made a fuss of and is more likely to lick you," said Caroline. The charity is working hard at trying to chance perceptions of Staffies, which for a number of years have been commonly tarred with the reputation of being aggressive, fighting dogs. They have teamed up with Battersea Dogs Home in a bid to show people in the county the softer side of Staffies.
They hope their campaign - 'Staffies. They're Softer Than You Think' - will raise awareness of the plight of the Staffie.
The charity acknowledges they could be in for a long battle: while the thought of a doe-eyed retriever makes people melt, a Staffie - as they are commonly known - often leaves people cold.
Somehow these little balls of muscle have gone from being regarded as a "Nanny dog" to canine outcasts among large sections of this nation of dog lovers.
Blighted by a bad reputation through no fault of their own, they are left in rehoming centres for long periods of time because owners mistakenly believe they are not suitable pets.
Becky Lowis, community engagement supervisor at Oak Tree says: "The charity has seen many loyal and loving Staffordshire Bull Terriers come through its doors over the years and by joining this campaign, we hope to reshape the outlook of this often misunderstood breed within our local community."
So how did the sociable dog that likes to be loved fall out of people's affections?
The breed is a bit of a contradiction and that is a big part of the problem, says the Dog Trust. While their natures are loving, their perceived physical similarities with banned breeds - such as pit bulls - has resulted in them being tarnished with the 'dangerous dogs' label.
"Our rescue Staffies have come to us for a number of reasons, mainly because people have been evicted, or moving into a house where dogs are not allowed," said Caroline. She added: "Unfortunately Staffies do stick around longer than other breeds. We have in the past had some that were with us for three years, but now more often than not they are remaining for around three to four months. The brindle Staffie stays longer. Colour will always influence the public."
ITV's For The Love Of Dogs presenter Paul O’Grady has spoken out in defence of Staffordshire bull terriers.
To find out more about Staffies. They're Softer Than You Think Campaign, please contact our Community Team on 01228 560082 Ext.228