Richard Benyon MP
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Minister suggests 'stupid people's dogs' label

Environment minister Richard Benyon has said Staffordshire bull crosses should be called "stupid people's dogs" rather than "status dogs".

The parliamentary under-secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs made the comment during a debate on the regulation of dangerous dogs in Westminster Hall.

He said: "No-one can fail to be shocked by the savagery described... the savagery of dog attacks that we have all seen in the media and by the several deaths in the past few years that have been mentioned.

"We understand the very real concerns about safety and the impact on communities. We also recognise the immense pressure on dog rescue centres as they see an ever-increasing rise in the number of Staffordshire bull crosses - so-called status dogs.

"I wish that we could somehow get away from using that phrase, as it indicates some sort of status for the people who use dogs in a malign way. Calling them 'stupid people's dogs', or something like that, might be more relevant.

"Very often, these dogs are cruelly abandoned by their owners, and we often forget that in this debate."

Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson raised the issue in Parliament after one of his constituents was bitten by a Staffordshire bull terrier and needed more than 30 stitches.

The attack is exempt from criminal law as it happened on private property.

Mr Robinson has called for an amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act so that it covers attacks in private property. Mr Benyon said he believed the government could support the idea of compulsory microchipping of dogs.