From status symbol to a child’s best friend – get to know the real ‘nanny’ dog 

Animal behaviourist, Debbie Connolly, has campaigned for many years to improve dog breeding practices and the responsibilities of pet ownership and is currently doing talks and seminars at UK shows about pet and child safety.
As consultant to several animal rescues, she is very aware of the problems facing the bull breeds and rotties due to over breeding from back yard breeders – resulting in a large number being put down on a daily basis.
Media stories quite rightly feature the tragic and truly terrible stories of these breeds injuring and even killing children, but Debbie believes that the public misconception to tar them all with the same brush is unfair.


Debbie commented: “The dogs that are biting people are not strays and they are not escaping from rescue centres and terrorising people. They are owned by macho, lazy and selfish people who need a status symbol to raise their profile on the street and they use the dog to achieve it.  This kind of person would make a poodle dangerous because through fear and aggression, that’s what they teach the dog to be and how to behave.”

A recent Panorama programme highlighted the tragedy of Staffie types being put down on a daily basis for no other reason than there is simply no room for them – new Staffie’s arrive every day and space has to be found.  This is the reality in every pound across the country every single day and whilst many rescue centres lighten some of the load by taking and helping these dogs, the simple fact is that there are just too many coming in and too few going out.


Debbie feels that the publicity has not helped the problem and says: “Sadly there are many stories of bull breeds and rotties hurting adults and children and so the public fear adopting them.  This is a common misconception – the Staffie was known as the “nanny dog” because of its tolerance for and the love of children – yet this important fact is lost in the media hype and the terrible reputation brought on by the breed being used as a status symbol.  The result is too many overlooked dogs in rescue centres and more healthy dogs killed every day.”


To raise awareness of bull breeds and support the cause to raise their profile in rescue centres, Debbie is giving up her time to give free training advice at The Mayhew Animal Home in North London on 14th April 2011 where she will be available, along with the Mayhew staff, from 2pm until 5pm.  Debbie is hoping that anyone in the London area, who would like to consider rescuing a dog, will come along and meet some of the fabulous bull breeds and rotties needing homes.  She is offering free training and behaviour advice specific to the needs of any visiting family and their potential new dog.  What a great way of finding out the real truth about the ‘nanny dog’ breed.
Caroline Yates, CEO of The Mayhew added:  “The Mayhew is at the forefront of dealing with dog welfare issues in an urban environment. As a result, we know all too well the challenges of having high numbers of bull breed type dogs in our shelter and the erroneous image many of these dogs have in the media, which makes finding them a new home all that more difficult. We are pleased to welcome Debbie to The Mayhew with the aim of hopefully finding some of our lovely dogs a new home.”


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  1. […] have just come across an article online titled “From Status Symbol To Nanny Dog” on the Safe Pets UK website: Animal behaviourist, Debbie Connolly, has campaigned for many years to improve dog breeding […]