This is the first book in the UK or the US to set on record the recent cultural phenomenon of the use of certain dog breeds – both legal and illegal – to ‘convey status’ to their owners. Such dogs are easily visible on social housing estates and provide acquired authority, respect, power and control. However, they are increasingly linked to urban street gangs as ‘weapon dogs’ and present a danger to the general public. Local and statutory authorities are now seeking to address the issue through action plans and interventions.
Written in a fresh, engaging and accessible style, this unique book contextualises the phenomenon in terms of sociology, criminology and public policy. It makes essential reading for academics and policy makers in criminology and criminal justice and those working with animal rights/animal welfare groups.
"This book uncovers the truth behind the urban mythology of 'status' dogs. Combining practical insight with academic rigour, it is essential reading for anyone attempting to deal with the phenomenon." Ian McParland, IPC Dog Services, UK
"Sadly, weapon dogs have become a new urban menace, spreading fear and
enabling crime. This book is the first to provide a much-needed insight, which will go some way to helping policy makers formulate a solution for the dogs and for us."
Kit Malthouse, London Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.
"This book explores the hidden world of young men and gangs and their desire for dangerous or aggressive dogs, while providing fascinating sociological insight and commentary on this recent phenomenon." Professor Anthony Goodman, Middlesex University, UK
"offers a unique view of the underlying social and economic factors contributing to the problem of status dogs and associated criminality", Rosalyn Bocker Parks, PhD Student Rutgers University
"To ignore this book would be a major oversight in appreciating the inter-relationship between stratas of human society, and the uses and abuses of dogs within that society...Every MP should have this book as mandatory reading." Kennel Gazette
Simon Harding is a criminologist and lecturer on crime, policing and community safety at Middlesex University, North London. Simon obtained his doctorate in youth justice at the Vauxhall Centre for the Study of Crime at University of Bedfordshire. He has worked in the fields of crime and community safety for over 25 years, including for the Home Office and several local authorities. He is currently researching gangs in South London.
Introduction; Methodological challenges of researching status dogs; Who let the dogs out?; Myth or menace?; Motivations and characteristics of owners; Presenting the evidence; Off the chain: the issue of dog-fighting; The implications for public space; Responses; Conclusion; Afterword.