The Liverpool Echo claims to have cracked a code used by underworld dog dealers to sell banned breeds like pit bulls in local newspapers.
The Echo said that code names and terms are used by dealers who sell fighting dogs through newspapers’ pets for sale columns, disguised as legitimate breeds.
Breeds banned in the UK by the Home Office include pit bulls, dogo Argentino, fila Brasiliero and Japanese tosa – but dealers use code names such as "Irish Stafford” and “American Stafford” to sneak them into classified advertising columns, an Echo investigation revealed.
Now the Echo, working with the Pet Advertising Advisory Group – made up of UK animal charities – has produced a definitive list of banned dog breeds, fake breeds and code words used to describe fighting dogs.
It means advertising staff can identify any breeders trying to sell banned breeds or dogs specifically bred for fighting.
The list was produced as part of the newspaper’s Biteback campaign which is calling for tougher punishments for irresponsible owners and microchipping for all dogs.
The campaign was launched after political reporter Nick Coligan challenged Home Secretary John Reid to toughen up the Dangerous Dogs Act following a spate of attacks on people and pets in the city.
Editor Ali Machray said: “We launched Biteback as we were worried by the growing number of incidents where thugs were using dogs as weapons.
The RSPCA and Merseyside police back us, and there has been a tremendous respose from readers.
“But some breeders pointed out our own classified columns were being used to sell illegal breeds or fighting dogs, using code names and descriptions only others in the trade would recognise. The list means we can now spot these terms and refuse to accept the adverts.”
The banned breeds are: American bulldog, APBT, American pit bull terrier, Am Staff, American Staff, American Stafford, American Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Bandog, Bandogge, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero, ISBT, Irish Staff, Irish Stafford, Irish Staffordshire bull terrier, Irish Staffordshire terrier, Japanese Tosa, PBT, Pit bull terrier, Tosa, or any crosses of the above.
Banned descriptions are: Blocky, Gameness, Game bred, Game proven, Leggy, Long legged, Old Thyme.