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Deed not Breed

People often visit the refuge and ask about some of the dogs that are there but whom they have not seen on the website. Sometimes this is because I am just behind the curve, often it is because there are as yet no photos of the dogs, and sometimes it is because the dog is already reserved, so there is no point going through all the work of putting the dog and his details on the site if he already has a home. All the more so as although I write the text, I have to rely on the web-elves who do the hard bit and I don’t want to abuse them.

Some dogs I do not put on the site, because unfortunately they are unadoptable. No, I do not mean that they are so aggressive that we cannot possible risk them leaving the SPA. I am referring to our so-called “dangerous” dogs. I hate this expression and I hate this law.

Basically it is French law that certain dogs are “dangerous”. Rottweilers, pedigree American Staffordshire terriers and pedigree Tosas are Category 2 (defense dogs), so we are allowed to home them. However this involves lots of paperwork; the dog has to be tested for its behaviour (involving being manipulated by a vet who has the appropriate training), the owner has to go on a course to understand his responsibilities and he must inform his insurance company and the Mairie that he owns the dog.

Then there are the Category 1 dogs. They are described by French law as attack dogs. Here we have all the non-pedigree staffies and staffie crosses, mastiffs (ie pitbulls) and non-pedigree tosas and crosses. There are very strict measurements that apply here, and sometimes a couple of centimetres can make all the difference. Many a time we have waited nervously at the refuge while a “borderline” dog is taken to the vet to have its breeding assessed.

Officially Category 1 dogs have no right to exist and if their parents’ owners had been more responsible and sterilised their dogs, they would NOT exist. Equally the refuge is not legally permitted to home Category 1 dogs. The law requires that they are put down within 48 hours of their arrival. However you know what a bunch of softies we are at the SPA, so thanks to Carole we have an agreement with a specialist association, who provides “cover” for our dogs while they are waiting for a home. Even then, the association (el Rancho de Canailles) does not have the right to home the dogs, but they home them in long term foster, so the dogs can have a normal family life. All Category 1 dogs have to be sterilised or castrated, for obvious reasons.

All our “dangerous dogs”, be they Category 1 or 2, are loved and although we do not have the right to walk them (even once they are homed, they have to be muzzled at all times when in public), they spend the mornings (when the refuge is shut) in the parks. In fact some of them live in the top parks. I often go in for a cuddle, as do some of the other volunteers.

And the reason I don’t put them on my website? I am not sure that any Brits are able to work their way through the paperwork required to adopt one of these dogs. If you disagree, please get in touch.

And the reason I don’t like this law? It is ridiculous and completely arbitrary. Different breeds are considered dangerous in different countries. In England, for instance, the Dogue Argentin is banned, whereas here you can adopt one with no additional paperwork at all. It is a form of racism caused much more by the reputation of a breed, which is inevitably down to the owners.

I have been bitten by a couple of dogs at the SPA, but never by our lovely staffies!

We at the SPA are great believers in DEED NOT BREED.

Connor, a pedigree American Staffordshire Terrier. Category 2







Zina, a staffie cross Category 1


About Darcey Dyson


  1. So sad Darcey. I love the staffies. One day I will come down and adopt one. Not at the moment tho’ because Bella would give it a miserable life. It would be so afraid!
    The nanny dog once upon a time.
    The dog in Peter Pan – ‘Nanna’ was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier if I remember correctly.
    What ever happened to make things change so much

  2. Sorry I got it wrong – in Peter Pan it was a Newfoundland. But the Staffie was the Nanny dog in the US because they were so good with children.

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