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“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, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, replied:
“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.”Speaking after the debate, Mr Fabricant admitted his comments were made to “protect the honour and reputation” of the breed. The official breed council for Staffies say the dog is “renowned for its affinity with humans and is particularly good with children”. However, a 47-year-old man revealed this week that he had lost part of his lip after being attacked by one of the dogs.