Three: Status dogs: myth or menace?

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This chapter provides a definition of status dog; a term first identified in 2007. Media roles are addressed and consideration given to the concept of moral panic. This is also reviewed in terms of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991). A cultural criminology perspective is also employed regarding moral panic theory. A critical discourse analysis of the coverage of status dogs in the UK news media is presented and parallels are drawn between UK reporting and media coverage in the USA which is revealed as unbalanced, sensationalist and biased. Over the past 20 years there has been a shift in human-animal relations with increased commodification of animals. The media has also failed to distinguish between owners with commodification values and traditional values, an issue which has resulted in the Staffordshire bull terrier being viewed by many as a status dog. This chapter reviews Beverland’s concept of intrinsic and extrinsic ownership of animals. The causes of animal cruelty among owners of status dogs is considered which is linked to irresponsible dog ownership, and the vicious circle of demand and supply of status dogs, via irresponsible breeders seeking to make a profit.

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The phenomena of status dogs and weapon dogs