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Breeds of dog notorious for fighting are being abandoned by owners for not being aggressive enough, according to an animal rescue centre.

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Brand’s Hatch Battersea Dogs and Cats Home houses around 50 dogs at any one time and at least half are Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or other bull terrier breeds, with hundreds given to the centre each year.

In Gravesend about half of all dogs picked up by council dog wardens are Staffordshire Bull Terriers which are then taken to the centre in West Kingsdown.

Centre manager Richard King said: “They are seen as a status symbol and there are those out there who want to use them as a weapon.

“In the past the Staffordshire was called the nanny dog because it was so good with families and children and a lot of these animals actually become intimidated when put in an aggressive environment, which is not what the owner wants, so they dump it.

“They often still get another of the same breed so the problem is self perpetuating.”

The home trains dogs in its care and is often able to re-home them within a month, though Mr King said again the reputation worked against these breeds.

He said: “People looking for a family dog often are put off by the reputation.

“We are very careful to place the right dog with the right people and I think a lot of people would be surprised with how friendly and sociable dogs like Staffies actually are.”

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