In a recent incident in Pasley Park, Southwark, southeast London, a man in his 40s was attacked by a dog believed to be an XL bully. The victim suffered arm injuries and was promptly taken to the hospital for treatment. Shockingly, the owner of the XL bully left the scene before the arrival of the police. Despite ongoing inquiries, no arrests have been made thus far. The incident attracted the attention of the authorities, with the London Ambulance Service alerting the Metropolitan Police.
These dog attacks have prompted Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor, to pledge a ban on XL bully dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Sunak aims to have the new laws implemented by the end of the year, in response to the increase in attacks involving this breed. The impetus for this decision was the tragic death of Ian Price, who was fatally mauled by two dogs in Staffordshire. The incident was labeled a suspected XL bully attack. Additionally, the public was left horrified by a video capturing the aggressive assault on an 11-year-old girl in Birmingham. South Yorkshire Police also reported four separate dog attacks, including one where a 15-year-old was brutally attacked by an XL bully in Sheffield.
The XL bully breed, derived from the American pit bull terrier, does not hold official recognition from the Kennel Club. Therefore, there are concerns that a ban primarily targeting this breed may inadvertently lead to the prohibition of other dog breeds. Campaigners argue that an effective overhaul of existing legislation should concentrate on the behavior of individual dogs rather than solely focusing on breed categorization. Presently, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has outlined a list of prohibited dog breeds, including the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino, and fila Brasileiro. It is important to note that owning, breeding, or selling dogs from these breeds is already against UK law. Additionally, owning a dog that is dangerously out of control constitutes a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment or substantial fines.
Emma Whitfield, a bereaved mother who lost her 10-year-old son Jack Lis to an American XL bully dog in Caerphilly, South Wales, in 2021, has urged the government to take further action beyond banning the breed. Whitfield asserts that targeting backyard breeders and irresponsible dog owners is imperative in preventing future attacks. She emphasizes that simply banning the dog breed and implementing restrictions will not be enough to address the root cause of these incidents. Whitfield’s plea serves as a reminder that a long-term solution to the dog attack problem requires a comprehensive approach encompassing responsible ownership, education, and strict enforcement of regulations.
The rising number of dog attacks, particularly those involving XL bully dogs, has sparked a significant debate surrounding a potential ban on this breed. While there is a push for new legislation to address these issues, concerns persist regarding the practicality of banning a dog breed that lacks official recognition. The existing regulations focus on prohibited breeds, but campaigners argue that the focus should be shifted to individual dog behavior. As the government considers its response, it is crucial to remember that a comprehensive approach encompassing responsible ownership and targeted measures against backyard breeding and irresponsible owners is necessary to effectively combat dog attacks.