UK

XL bully protesters rally after proposed ban by PM

A man was taken to hospital after being bitten by a dog – believed to be an XL bully – just hours before demonstrators gathered in London today to protest against a proposed ban.

The victim, who is in his 40s, was attacked in Pasley Park in Southwark, southeast London, on Friday.

He suffered injuries to his arm and has since been discharged from hospital. The owner of the dog, believed to be a grey-coloured XL bully, left the scene before police arrived.

Demonstrators held signs in Trafalgar Square saying “don’t bully our bullies” and “muzzle Rishi” at the event, however none of the dogs were present.

Shouts of “save our bullies” and “sit for your dog” rang out as protestors wearing slogan emblazoned T-shirts marched through the capital.

There have been no arrests after the incident in Pasley Park and police inquiries are ongoing.

Writer and lawyer Ness Lyons said the attack happened in her local park.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, she said: “Earlier this evening an XL bully jumped a fence and attacked a man in my local park. Partially witnessed by my son.

“Man was bitten badly in several places including his abdomen.

“Police and ambulance came, but it took an hour. Horrifying.

“The owner grabbed his dog and legged it.”

 People take part in a protest in central London, against the Government's decision to add XL bully…

Rishi Sunak has said he will ban the animals under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be “in place by the end of the year”, following a spate of attacks involving the breed.

Recent dog attacks

Ian Price, 52. Pic: Staffordshire Police
Image:
Ian Price, 52, was attacked by two dogs. Pic: Staffordshire Police

The prime minister’s announcement came after the death of Ian Price, 52, who was mauled by two dogs in Staffordshire earlier in September, in what police said was a suspected XL bully attack.

A few days before his death, shocking footage emerged of an attack in Birmingham that left an 11-year-old girl with serious injuries.

And South Yorkshire Police reported four separate dog attacks on children in two days, including one in which a 15-year-old was taken to hospital after being savaged by an XL bully in Sheffield.

Read more:
Why banning the dogs could be problematic
Two XL bully dogs shot dead after killing 22 pregnant sheep

XL bully owner defends breed but calls for tougher laws

The four breeds currently banned in the UK

The XL bully, which is developed from the American pit bull terrier, is not recognised as a specific breed by the Kennel Club – and there are concerns an attempt to prohibit the animal may not be practical due because of this, as it could mean a ban may inadvertently outlaw other kinds of dogs.

Campaigners are calling for an overhaul of the existing legislation, so it focuses “not on the breed but the deed”.

It is against the law to own, breed or sell dogs on the list of prohibited breeds, drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK: the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro.

It is also against the law to have a dog that is dangerously out of control, an offence which can be punished by prison sentences and unlimited fines.

‘Backyard breeders need to be targeted’

Jack Lis
Image:
Jack Lis died in 2021

Emma Whitfield, whose 10-year-old son Jack Lis was killed by an American XL bully dog in Caerphilly, South Wales, in 2021, has called on the government to go further than just banning the breed, saying backstreet breeders and irresponsible dog owners need to be targeted.

“Banning the dog at the moment will help and putting restrictions on them will prevent these types of attacks,” she said. “But, in the long term, if backyard breeders still exist, they are going to create a new breed and we could find ourselves in a few years in the same place.”

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