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Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 2 October 2009
Aggressive cross-breeds the latest status symbol for youth

A WARNING about the dangers posed by new breeds of fighting dogs came this week from the RSPCA.
David Grant, director of the RSPCA’s famous Harmsworth Animal Hospital, in Finsbury Park, said: “My staff are treating up to two to three dogs a day for fight wounds and injuries sustained as a result of them being kept as status symbols.
“Some of the animals are innocent victims and some belong to young people who think having a dog makes them look tough.”
The big problem was the craze for keeping aggressive-looking, cross-breed dogs, he added.
“I can’t emphasise enough that people should not buy dogs from someone they meet in a pub, or from an advert in a newspaper,” he said. “These are not proper breeders and we’re seeing lots of disease in these dogs.”
Staff recently spotted a leaflet outside the animal hospital, off Seven Sisters Road, offering pups for £100 each.
When the owner was contacted he would not give an address or let anyone visit his home and wanted to meet discreetly at a pre-arranged venue.
Mr Grant said people were also buying dogs on a whim and then abandoning them when the new owner became bored.
“There is a lot of cruelty associated with bad breeding and abandonment,” he added.
A minority of criminals were using dogs to intimidate people, he said. “They fight with other dogs to see which one is the hardest and commit all sorts of cruelties to the animals, including stabbings and beatings,” Mr Grant said.
“I’ve seen evidence of chain fighting in the borough. This is where they hold two animals on chains or leads and egg them on to find out which is the hardest.”
Dogs were also being allowed off the lead in the street.
“We are getting four or five road accidents a week where these animals are not controlled,” he said.
Bringing back dog licences might help but he felt that would mean more police and more kennels to house confiscated animals.
“The best solution is to educate people not to buy these animals in the first place,” Mr Grant said.
“Always go to a reputable breeder or an RSPCA rescue centre.”

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