SCORES of unwanted ‘status’ dogs are being turned away from Oxfordshire animal rescue centres because not enough people want to take them on.

The Blue Cross animal charity, based in Burford, claims the sheer number of unwanted and abandoned bull breeds, including Staffordshire bull terriers, bull mastiffs, and their crossbreeds means there are simply not enough homes for them.

The “shocking” problem is blamed on those who want a tough-looking “status dog” but then lose interest and abandon them.

If homes are not found, the dogs eventually have to be put down by the local authority.

The Blue Cross has taken in 38 Staffordshire bull terriers over the past year, but has had to turn a further 48 away to other animal homes.

And at the Lewknor centre, 17 have been admitted but another 58 had to be sent elsewhere.

It is believed they have mainly been taken in from homes in Oxford, Abingdon, and Banbury.

Blue Cross chief executive Kim Hamilton, based at Burford, said the government needed to focus on cutting down backstreet breeding.

She urged dog owners to get their pets neutered to prevent unwanted litters.

She said: “We have a huge welfare problem with bull breeds in this country.

“There are large numbers being bred and a shocking number being given up and abandoned.

“We take in as many as we can at Blue Cross but there simply aren’t enough homes for them to go to.

“It’s the same story at rescue centres across the country, so we need to tackle the source of the problem which means getting these dogs neutered.”

Ms Hamilton said the popularity of the dogs among people who want a tough-looking ‘status dog’ is soaring but many are being abandoned as owners lose interest or supply exceeds demand.

Statistics from the charity also show bull breeds take longer to find new owners than many of the other popular breeds.

The Blue Cross said the average stay for a Staffie is 46 days compared to just 30 for a Labrador, 26 for a retriever and 23 for a Yorkshire terrier.

One dog, Kiera, has been at the Blue Cross kennels in Burford for more than 12 months.

At the moment there are three Staffies looking for a home in Oxfordshire.

One, Marley, a boxer-Staffie cross, has already spent six months desperately waiting for a home.

Zoe Fitzgerald, of the centre, said despite coming in with very little training, Marley had learnt how to weave through poles, go through tunnels and climb the A-frame.

She said: “Marley is a beautiful dog with lots of energy and with the right family he will make a wonderful pet.

“He has picked up training so quickly which shows what intelligent dogs these breeds can be.

“Marley had a difficult start in life and we would love him to find the loving home he deserves.”

Anyone interested in giving a dog a home should contact The Blue Cross on 01993 822651.