Nav: Home

Tough dogs not merely gang weapons

June 16, 2011

Youths in groups or gangs choose to own dogs primarily for socializing and companionship. Dogs are also used for protection and enhancing status, but to a lesser extent, contrary to popular perception. The research by Jennifer Maher and Harriet Pierpoint from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Glamorgan in the UK, is published online in Springer's journal Crime, Law and Social Change.

There is rising concern in the UK over irresponsible dog ownership, and the use of so-called status or weapon dogs, by street-based youth groups. Youth criminal and antisocial behavior using these dogs has been widely reported in urban areas. However, to date, the evidence to support a link between youth dog ownership and criminality is inconclusive and fails to consider the possible positive and beneficial relationship between youth and dog.

Maher and Pierpoint explored the relationship between youth groups, gangs, their culture and their dogs and looked at the implications for dog owners and their community, as well as for the dogs themselves. In this pilot project, the authors shadowed youth workers in multiple locations across a South Wales city, to recruit and give a voice to hard-to-reach youth dog owners. They interviewed 25 youths in total and seven animal welfare and youth practitioners, including a vet, a dog warden, and a youth offending team warden.

All youths identified themselves as being part of a group and over half belonged to a youth gang. The majority owned a dog and over half the dogs were bull breeds. Companionship and socialization with friends were the main reasons youths identified for their ownership. Interestingly, practitioners did not highlight these functions for dogs when talking about why youths kept dogs.

Both youths and practitioners also reported that dogs were kept for protection and enhancing youth's perceived 'tough' and 'powerful' status. Some youths also used dogs as weapons to either defend themselves or for dog fighting. The authors identified more than 20 types of animal abuse towards dogs and other small animals perpetrated by young people.

The authors conclude: "Dogs serve intrinsic functions - in other words, the dogs are companions and are part of a social group. But they also serve extrinsic functions - the dogs are used as accessories and weapons and are often neglected and abused. Although inherently conflicting, youths did not recognize this paradox."
-end-
Reference
Maher J & Pierpoint H (2011). Friends, status symbols and weapons: the use of dogs by youth groups and youth gangs. Crime, Law and Social Change; DOI 10.1007/s10611-011-9294-5

The full-text article is available to journalists on request.

Springer

Related Dogs Articles:

Urban dogs are more fearful than their cousins from the country
Inadequate socialisation, inactivity and an urban living environment are associated with social fearfulness in dogs.
Veterinarians: Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss
Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise.
Dogs and wolves are both good at cooperating
A team of researchers have found that dogs and wolves are equally good at cooperating with partners to obtain a reward.
Hidden danger from pet dogs in Africa
Researchers at the Universities of Abuja and Nigeria, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, have detected a potentially human-infective microbe in pet dogs in Nigeria.
How humans have shaped dogs' brains
Dog brain structure varies across breeds and is correlated with specific behaviors, according to new research published in JNeurosci.
Parasitic worms infect dogs, humans
A human infective nematode found in remote northern areas of Australia has been identified in canine carriers for the first time.
Better prognosticating for dogs with mammary tumors
For dogs with mammary tumors, deciding a course of treatment can depend on a variety of factors, some of which may seem to contradict one another.
Dogs mirror owner's stress
The levels of stress in dogs and their owners follow each other, according to a new study from Linköping University, Sweden.
Sleepovers reduce stress in shelter dogs
Foster care provides valuable information about dog behavior that can help homeless dogs living in shelters find forever homes.
Dogs know when they don't know
In a new study, researchers have shown that dogs possess some 'metacognitive' abilities -- specifically, they are aware of when they do not have enough information to solve a problem and will actively seek more information.
More Dogs News and Dogs Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.