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Thousands of 'status symbol' dogs abandoned

The rise of the Staffordshire bull terrier as a status symbol has led to thousands of the dogs being abandoned.

Increasing numbers of "Staffies" are kicked out when they are no longer wanted, often having been bought on impulse. The trend is inflicting "huge damage" on the breed, which is not aggressive if handled and trained correctly, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home said.

The number of Staffies being abandoned has risen more than fourfold in the past 15 years, fuelled by back-street breeding and internet sales. Last year, the breed accounted for more than 40 per cent of the lost, abandoned, abused and unwanted dogs that came through the Battersea home's doors. Half of those were less than two years old, suggesting that owners had acquired the animals as puppies with little understanding of their needs.

A spokesman for the charity said: "People in gangs have been using them on the streets as weapons or status symbols but when the novelty wears off, we find them coming to us."