MPs will debate this afternoon whether Staffordshire Bull Terriers should be added to the Dangerous Dogs Act.

More than 162,000 people have signed a petition calling for Staffordshire Bull Terriers not to be banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 after calls from an animal rights group for the dogs to be covered by the act - effectively banning them from being owned in the UK.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has asked for Staffies to be added to the Act following a consultation. 

The group says the dogs are often abused and abandoned and that the best way to stop the abuse is to stop people breeding the animals.

A spokesman added: "Staffies are currently flooding UK animal shelters and have become by far the most commonly abandoned breed of dog in the country.

"They’re also one of the most abused – in fact, the RSPCA has confirmed that 80 per cent of its cruelty-to-animals prosecutions concern Staffies.

"The breed is also the most likely to be abducted and used by criminal gangs for fighting rings or as guard dogs.

"Given how vulnerable these dogs are to abuse, neglect, and abandonment, why would anyone fight the introduction of legislation that would prevent people from bringing more of them into a world that treats many so cruelly?"

Four breeds are currently banned in the UK. They are:

  • Pit Bull terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

You can view the petition by clicking here. 

Steven Quinn, who set up the petition added: "Breed specific legislation is not the solution to the problem of dog attacks.

"Many people in the UK today have the pleasure of owning a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

"As one of these people I can recommend them as being loving, loyal and caring, far from dangerous they are great companions.

"It would be a terrible tragedy for the dog lovers of the UK to lose the right to own one of these great companions. We are calling on Parliament to save our staffies and not have them banned as dangerous dogs, because they are not.

"People create dangerous dogs, people are the problem."

Watch the debate live: 

The debate will take place in the House of Commons at 4.30pm and you can watch it live on Parliamentary TV by clicking here.

Battersea Dogs Home strongly opposes this ban as last year they rehomed 350 Staffies, who they say are loving, gentle and loyal animals.

A Battersea spokesman said: “There are, of course, dangerous dogs in our communities, but Battersea does not believe a dog is dangerous simply because of the way it looks.

“We support a common-sense approach that says dogs should be judged on what they do, not on what they look like.

“We know that in the right environment, and with the right owners, Staffies can and do make ideal family pets.

"Thousands of proud owners will tell you that Staffies really are softer than you think.”