In a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday on dangerous dogs (25th March), Michael Fabricant defended the honour and reputation of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
"Too many people confuse the Staffordshire Terrier with the Pit Bull Terrier and similar cross-breeds. These are dogs with a very different temperament indeed" says Michael.
The House of Commons Hansard below shows Michael’s comments to Hillary Benn, MP – The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:-
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): What steps he is taking to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs; and if he will make a statement.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): We have launched a wide-ranging consultation on the problem of dangerous dogs, and I recently met with welfare groups and enforcement agencies to discuss this. We have also produced new guidance for the public, enforcers of the law and magistrates, as well as provided the Association of Chief Police Officers with funding to help train police officers.
Tony Baldry: It seems to me that the 9 March consultation document does not deal with a crucial issue, which is people actually breeding dogs to be weapons and the increase in the breeding of pit bull terriers. A microchipped pit bull terrier is still a pit bull terrier, and there needs to be discussion with the Kennel Club, vets and others about how one can limit the breeding of dogs that are intended to be weapons.
Hilary Benn: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Indeed, that was one of the points raised at the meeting with stakeholders to which I referred in my answer. The consultation paper ranges quite widely, but given that there is a bit of history on legislation passed in haste and repented at some leisure and cost to many people, it is important that we get this right. I encourage all those with an interest to express a view. There was agreement on some points in the meeting: there is pretty broad support, I think, for extending the legislation to private property and for the idea of dog control orders, which would, it seemed to many people at the meeting, provide a pretty targeted way of trying to deal with particular owners, and the dogs they own, who are causing the bulk of the problem.
Michael Fabricant: Although I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry), will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to say quite clearly that there is one hell of a difference between a pit bull terrier and a Staffordshire terrier, which has a very different temperament indeed?
Hilary Benn: Of course, many people in the country own Staffordshire terriers, and they are much loved family pets. The lesson, which the Home Secretary and I saw when we visited the RSPCA hospital in Seven Sisters a couple of weeks ago, is that other breeds are now being trained as fighting dogs, status dogs, weapon dogs-or whatever phrase one uses to describe them-and the question is how we target effort and energy on those who are doing it. Let us be honest: there is a very lively debate about breed versus deed. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 specified four breeds, but in the consultation meeting that I held, the majority of those who expressed a view were sceptical about a breed approach, and thought that we should focus more on deed.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council say "The Stafford is renowned for its affinity with humans and is particularly good with children…. Because of its close relationship with humans, the Stafford does not make a good guard dog….."