Breed rescue

Rescue sounds like something people do when houses are burning down, rivers are flooding, dog fighting rings get busted . . . purebred dog rescue isn’t nearly as dramatic as all of that usually. It’s more normally a small very tired group of breed enthusiasts who are constantly fielding messages such as – URGENT will be PTS in one hour if you don’t respond – or – we have seventeen Staffords in the shelter please come get them – or we have a Stafford and won’t allow a breeder to pull we would rather euthanize than support breeders – or I bought a Stafford but my breeder never told me he might grow up to hate other dogs please come get him – or – my brother passed away and now I have a 12 year old Stafford who needs a home and I cant keep him – or even – we have two staffords but are having a baby, moved to an apartment, got deployed, went to jail, new girlfriend who hates dogs and need to get rid of them. . . SIGH.

Purebred rescue is not something I enjoy. It is mentally exhausting. It takes up a lot of bandwidth in my life which I sure could use elsewhere….but it is also something I feel obligated to do as a lover of the breed, as a breeder and as a responsible person.

Purebred rescue costs money. Purebred rescue takes a LOT of my free time. Purebred rescue means lots of fund raising to help cover the cost of transporting, shelter release expenses, veterinary bills, training costs, foster care, transportation, feeding and caring for dogs whom another person produced and another person owned. And now the dog is our responsibility.

Purebred rescue means making decisions. Deciding whether or not a dog is indeed a Stafford. Deciding what we need to pull a dog from a shelter (not always easy). Deciding who will foster, train, care for the dog. Deciding how to market the dog and how to screen potential homes. Deciding who can do home checks, background checks and transport the dog to a new home.

Purebred rescue means paperwork. Paperwork to provide shelters showing we (The Stafford Knot, Inc.) are a non profit 501(c)(3). Paperwork to locate breeder. Paperwork to get owners to sign release forms for owner surrenders. Paperwork for applications. Paperwork for contracts. Paperwork to register microchips into new owners names. Paperwork to keep in touch with new owners. Paperwork to offer new owners to help educate them on the breed. Paperwork to try to get new owners to join breed and all breed clubs to remain active and involved.

Purebred rescue also includes owner surrender and helping breeders Rehome Staffords. Owner surrenders are usually quite emotional. This means 100’s of texts and phone calls. Emotionally draining phone calls. Phone calls with tears, excuses, anger, frustration and heartbreak. Purebred rescue can sometimes mean making difficult decisions regarding the future of a dogs life.

With all of this my job is to remain calm and compassionate. When the phone gets put down – I can then break down myself. But not before then.

Purebred rescue means being yelled at, cussed at, lied to, gossiped about, rumors told, accusations hurled about, abused in so many ways by breeders, shelters, other rescues, owners and strangers on social media. And throughout all of the abuse it also means remaining calm and true to the goal which is the safety of the dog in question.

The Staffords are why I do this. I would love to stop and let others take over. I have tried to quit. The sad truth is that we ALL need to be involved. This is not a job for a couple of people in each breed. We all need to work together and do the best we can do. Breeders need to step up – carefully screen new owners. Remain in contact with those owners. Be their support. Microchip and register that chip for life and put your name on the chip along with the owners and veterinarians. Sponsor owners club memberships to encourage participation with other Stafford owners. Get owners involved. Make it well known in your contracts, in your conversations and on your web pages and FB pages that you are available for the lifetime of the Stafford you produced or rescued. Make it well known that there exists a community of Stafford enthusiasts all Stafford owners can turn to for any reason.

Purebred rescue is not the enemy nor is it something nice to have to do. BUT it is something we ALL should be doing.

Looking for a Stafford?

I have noticed an increase in people reaching out for help after buying a puppy and realizing they might not have gotten exactly what they were hoping for. There is a real need for more education on this breed. A number of ‘pop up’ breeders are literally cashing in on the upsurge of popularity in Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

In an effort to educate we are working on marketing ideas to try to reach people BEFORE they purchase a Stafford puppy so we can make sure they are well equipped with all the information they need to make a good purchase from a breeder who will support and mentor them, a breeder who is involved in more than ‘making puppies’, a breeder who does (and can prove) all breed appropriate health testing, a breeder who will take back a dog they have produced for any reason at any time, a breeder who is involved in breed rescue, a breeder who is well educated on the breed – an honest preservation breeder.

You deserve to bring home a puppy who has been enriched and raised in a loving home environment for the first 8-12 weeks of its life. You deserve the correct temperament. You deserve a happy and healthy, well adjusted puppy. A Stafford puppy should be confident, eager to learn and energetic. Whether or not your breeder feeds raw, naturally rears or not – they should be a well respected active member of the Stafford community. Help us help you!

The new marketing campaign will be designed to target regular people looking for a puppy so they have this information in hand! Tell us what you search for when looking online – tell us what you expect to find – tell us your thoughts on what you are finding when searching. Send an email to wavemakerstaffords @gmail.com with the subject: Stafford Search Study so that we can put together a helpful education campaign.

Why the intense interview?

Our application is very lengthy. Our interviews are quite in depth. We do home checks. We talk on the phone with people interested in buying a dog from us. We meet potential buyers in person and ask they visit us or we meet them at their home or a show or event. We have a very detailed contract and we discuss this contract with our buyers, negotiating it and altering it until both parties are in total agreement. We are interested in the well being of the dog we are selling – we have to trust the home it goes to – we have to know for certain the dog will be fairly treated, well cared for, loved and kept in a healthy environment. Our interest stems from a responsibility we accepted when we decided to breed a litter or do rescue.

We are very open on this website, in person, in writing and on the phone about the types of homes we seek out. There is no hidden or shady agenda. We answer emails, phone calls and PMs and will also tell a person if they are not a good match for us.

Sometimes we make errors in our judgement and we have to live with that. We have blogged about one huge mistake we made in our first litter. Scroll back in the blog and you can read the details for yourself – but let’s just say – we won’t make this mistake again. So if you contact us and you feel we are being a bit too ‘intense’ please know the reason for that is our history of being scammed and our dedication to protect the animals we are responsible for.

If all you want is to PayPal your money for your 1st, 2nd, 3rd pick puppy and be on your way ….well we are not your breeder.

#staffordnotstaffy

For years I have used the above hashtag much to the annoyance of some. I have had people ‘unfriend’ me on social media (that’s okay with me btw everyone doesn’t need to follow me). I have had 100’s of discussions on this topic. My viewpoint can be more easily described in the following blog post by someone I follow. I didn’t write the following however it sounds exactly like I had:


Not long ago, we wrote about the Staffordshire bull terrier. We explained why we share our home on wheels with two individuals of the breed, Mojo and Venus.

Whenever we walk in a city or travel by public transport, we frequently hear comments such as: ‘Cute stafford!’ or ‘I’ve got one just like that.’ When we do find ourselves in a conversation, people often wonder why our dogs are so small. ‘They must still be puppies, right?’ Another sentence we commonly hear is ‘My neighbor/sister/mother-in-law/friend (take your pick) has a staffy too, but it is much bigger and bulkier!’

We usually just swallow our pride. Often though, we can’t refrain from explaining that Mojo and Venus are purebred Staffordshire Bull Terriers who both fit the breed standard. And to be honest, it’s not about pride at all.

We can’t judge people for thinking it either. It’s just what everyone is told, by hobby breeders, by every media outlet, by friends and family, and et cetera.  So how could we even blame them?

Quinlent Tullamore Dew the staffordshire bull terrier pulling on her lead
Quinlent Tullamore Dew @quinlent

Just a recent example

Recently, we were offered a position working on a campsite. We indicated that we owned dogs, explained that our dogs are purebred Staffordshire bull terriers, and that they would be taken along to the campsite with us. This was alright. The employee would try to find a campsite that allowed dogs, so that we could work for them. Three days later, we were informed that the employee’s colleague also owns a ‘stafford’. He was certain that those dogs are not allowed on campsites in the country. Our breed was supposedly classified as one of the two categories of ‘dangerous dogs’ in France.

What our contact person failed to realize, is that her colleague did not own a Staffordshire bull terrier. More importantly though, she did in fact not read up on the rules thoroughly. Though the American Staffordshire Terrier (which is also commonly referred to as staffy) is banned in France, they are not to be confused with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. They are a different breed entirely. The fact that people have become accustomed to referring to groups of dogs under one term has resulted in difficult situations for owners of pure bred Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

selma the staffordshire bull terrier
Selma from @lavaandselma

After all, there were no vacancies on campsites where dogs were allowed, but we are welcome to work for them next year. We sent over some clear information with good references, and our purebred Staffordshire Bull Terriers are now welcome, too!

Staffy has become a dangerous grouping term

Why would we bother that people call every blocky-headed dog a staffy or pitbull? The simple answer is, it has consequences for both the public opinion about purebred dogs and their owners.

The term Staffordshire Bull Terrier starts with ‘staff’. The name will remind people of stories they might have seen or read about in the media. A big blocky-headed dog (of unknown heritage) attacking a child will be referred to as just another staffy or pitbull

The problem here is that although these incidences rarely include purebred Staffordshire Bull Terriers, they do bear the brunt of it (and so do the American Staffordshire Terriers whom have not been involved in any incidents in the Netherlands for over 15 years). People have come to see the breed as dangerous by hearing bad publicity about ‘staffies’ everywhere. But what even is a so-called ‘staffy’? For as far as I know, it’s a non-existing breed.

A staffordshire bull terrier jumping into a lake
Picture by @tineskidesign

All dogs with a similar appearance, both purebred and mixed breeds from responsible breeders, backyard breeders, and shelters, are grouped together and bundled under one name. Why? Because it’s simple. But effective it certainly is not. Though their appearance may show some similarities here and there, their personalities often do not.

Even professionals do not seem to care

At university, I came to realize that even professionals can’t distinguish between breeds and do not care to label dogs correctly. During my time working in the largest animal shelter in the Netherlands, there were numerous blocky-headed mixed breeds with floppy or pricked ears, short and long legs, squished noses, undershot jaws, and … You name it. All of them were referred to as staffies, both amongst colleagues as well as to potential future owners. Staffies where said by the manager to make up 75% of the shelter’s population, yet during my stay I only saw one individual that clearly resembled the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and no American Staffordshire Terriers whatsoever.

Staffordshire bull terrier staring intensely into the camera
Picture by @Ingerm96

Shortly after my time in the shelter, one of the dogs labeled as a so-called ‘staffy’ was rehomed. Within a week, it ended up biting a child. The dog was tall (his head reached my hips), had floppy ears, legs that belonged to a giraffe and a strong undershot jaw. In no way did it resemble either a Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier. Five days straight articles kept popping up on the internet about how yet another staffy had bitten a child. Journalists started speculating about the need for a breed specific legislation.

If the law were to go through, it would mean that purebred Staffordshire Bull Terriers would get punished for something they didn’t do. We do not mean to say that we have a perfect solution for the problem – as there certainly is a grave issue with a strong increase in incidents. But we do know that we should seek a solution that fits the issue at hand. We should rather focus our attention on all the (mixed) breeds and their irresponsible breeders and owners!

Characteristics

We don’t mean to say that mixed breed dogs should be discriminated against. On the contrary. Though characteristics are specified for every breed of dog, individuals differ. Both genetics and environmental circumstances play a strong role in the behavior that any dog will display.

One must simply remember that individuals referred to as staffies, most times do not resemble the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed and its characteristics. A mixed breed that looks like a Labrador retriever does not influence the way we look at the Flat Coated retriever, does that make sense?

Teun the staffordshire bull terrier standing in front of street art
Teun from @teundestafford

Grouping all dogs with some similar features, read blocky head, under the term ‘staffy’ has caused ignorance in the public and media. People no longer recognize purebred dogs from mixed breed individuals. Nor do they make the distinction between American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, while there is in fact a large difference between the breeds. And above all, we’d hate to see purebred Staffordshire Bull Terriers get banned due to badly informed owners and irresponsible breeders of (mixed breed) dogs.

Even between breeders of every breed, there are many differences to be found! Venus is a sports-bred Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Mojo is a show-bred Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Though their appearance is very similar, their behavior is incredibly different. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are often referred to as nanny-dogs on many websites, and they are friendly and happy dogs. But we’ll be the last person to say that the breed is your ‘perfect calm family dog’. But we’ll talk all about that in two weeks!

A staffordshire bull terrier standing on a field of grass
Teun the staffordshire bull terrier standing on the beach
A staffordshire bull terrier staring into the camera
selma the staffordshire bull terrier