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Picture 2Gerwyn Dawe wishes it were tougher for people to
own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The retired RSPCA inspector and Mayhew Animal Home volunteer
has been dealing with dog problems full-time for over 15 years.

He says he gets frustrated because irresponsible ownership causes
many of these situations.

He mentions a dog he had to euthanize when he worked for the RSPCA
because it was aggressive, a result of the owner never making it clear to
the dog that he was in charge.

“If I had my way,” Gerwyn said, “before you could own a dog you’d
have to go to college for a month to learn about them.”

Dominant

In the case of one of the dogs Gerwyn put down, he says that among
other things the dog’s owner used to play tug with the animal and
always let the dog win.

This reinforced the dog’s perception that he was dominant. “Right
from when the dog’s young, you dominate the dog,” Gerwyn said.
“You make sure you dominate it and I don’t mean dominate by cruelty.
If you play tug with it, win. Don’t let the dog win.”

He adds that the Mayhew Animal Home is right to advocate training
classes for potential dog owners. “Training classes, ninety percent of
the time, are training the owner,” Gerwyn said. “Not the dog.”

Basic care

Claire Harper is an animal welfare officer with the Mayhew.

Part of her job is educating dog owners on how to provide basic care.

According to Claire, many of the people buying Staffies and similar bull
breed dogs as fashion accessories are not thinking about how much time
and money basic care requires.

Claire says these owners can be caught off guard after they have had a
dog for a while.

“It’s almost like the dog has played some nasty trick on them,” Claire said.
“It’s almost like it’s the animal’s fault.”

Family dog

But not every owner wants a Staffy because the dogs are fashionable.
Mandy Oakham , a west London resident says she and her husband have
wanted a Staffy for years, feeling it completed their family.

The Okhams adopted Melanie, a Staffy crossbreed from the Mayhew in May.

And, Mandy says, like with any member of the family, she and her husband
have to consider how their plans affect Melanie.

“With kids if you want to go out you plan your life around the kids,” Mandy said.
“Now we plan our life around the dog…You do think of her like a member of
the family cause she has to fit in.”

Re-homing

Gerwyn says that re-homing a dog like Melanie is one of the reasons he
fosters dogs for the Mayhew.

“It’s what makes the job worthwhile,” Gerwyn said. He visited the Oakhams
in late June to see how Melanie was adjusting to her new home.

He is hopeful that the Oakhams will continue to treat Melanie as a member
of their family.

He says people owe all dogs a good home .

“A dog,” Gerwyn said, “ is the most faithful companion in the world.”

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