Friends, Status Symbols and Weapons: The use of dogs by youth groups and youth gangs

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    Recent UK media reports and government responses evidence a rising concern over irresponsible dog ownership, particularly the use of so-called status dogs or weapon dogs. Youth criminal and antisocial behaviour using these dogs has been widely reported in urban areas and associated with street-based youth groups, in particular, the growing phenonmenon of UK youth gangs. This article reports on the finding and implications of a small-scale stydy, comprising interviews with 25 youths and seven animal welfare and youth practitioners, which aimed to identify the nature of animal use and abusein youth groups and gangs. It found that over half of the youths belonged to a youth gangand the remainder a youth group, with the majority owning an animal which was most often a 'status'dog (e.g. bull breed). Analysis revealed thatdogs were used mainly for socialising and companionship, protection and enhancing status. More than 20 types of animal abuse were described by youths and practitioners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)405 - 420
    Number of pages15
    JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


    • status dog
    • dangerous dog
    • animal abuse
    • youth groups
    • youth gangs


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