Second of three fatal or disfiguring U.K. dog attacks in a week
FAREHAM, Hampshire, U.K.––Dog walker and trainer Ian “Wiggy” Symes, 34, by both family and police accounts a canine handling expert, was on the morning of August 10, 2022 killed in a facial attack by an out-of-control “American Bully XL” pit bull belonging to a 20-year-old man.
Symes, who had worked with pit bulls and Rottweilers, and appears to have bred Rottweilers, was attacked while walking a non-bully breed dog at the Fareham Park Recreation Ground.
The 20-year-old owner of the “American Bully XL” was reportedly detained but released on “suspicion of being the owner/person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death,” wrote Portsmouth News senior reporter Steve Deeks.
The “American Bully XL” was impounded at the scene.
Record eighth U.K. dog fatality of 2022
Symes was the eighth U.K. dog attack fatality of 2022, in what was already a record-breaking year for fatal dog attacks, the third victim of an “American Bully XL,” and the fifth victim of pit bulls mislabeled as something else, to evade the narrow definitions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, passed by Parliament 31 years less a day before Symes’ death.
Even as Symes died with “horrific facial injuries,” in the words of a young mother who with her daughter were witnesses to the attack, according to Jack Wright and Lizzie May of the Daily Mail, the misleadingly named “Dog Control Coalition” electronically spammed out yet another of many media releases issued over the years urging Parliament to “repeal breed specific legislation.”
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the “Dog Control Coalition” argues, “sentences dogs to death simply because they look a certain way,” specifically like an American pit bull terrier, a Japanese tosa, a Dogo Argentino, or a Fila Brasiliero, all of them prohibited pit bull variants.
Members of the “Dog Control Coalition” include the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, the Royal SPCA, the Scottish SPCA, and the British Veterinary Association.
Five of these organizations have vested interests in rehoming pit bulls. Three [at least] profit by treating pit bulls and the other animals they injure. One profits by registering pit bulls under various guises.
None have a clear mandate to promote public safety.
“Status dogs” arms race
Pit bulls, meanwhile, labeled anything else, have only proliferated since the passage of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, flooding British shelters with impounded or abandoned pit bulls. This pattern is the same as has occurred over the same three decades in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, in absence of legislation which effectively prohibits breeding and selling pit bulls no matter what they are called, prohibits rehoming pit bulls who have not been sterilized, and at least seriously discourages acquisition of other dogs of dangerous reputation.
Fatal and disfiguring dog attacks, in the United Kingdom as elsewhere, have soared parallel to pit bull proliferation. But pit bulls are not the only dogs involved, as breeding “status dogs” has become an arms race.
Doberman & pit/mastiff mix
Just one day before Symes was killed in Fareham, Deeks of the Portsmouth News reported, a Doberman severely mauled a three-year-old girl in Leigh Park, eleven miles east. The Doberman owner was arrested but released on bail.
Three days later, an apparent pit bull/mastiff mix inflicted serious injuries to the head and face of a four-year-old boy in the Norris Green district of Liverpool. The 31-year-old female owner of the pit/mastiff was, like the Doberman owner, arrested “on suspicion of being in possession of a dangerously out-of-control dog.”
A 33-year-old man was arrested on the same charge, in connection with the same attack, four days after the woman.
17% rise in dog attacks in just one year
The National Hospital Service of the United Kingdom on August 8, 2022 released data showing that hospital admissions for dog bites and other injuries caused by dogs increased by 17% in the fiscal year 2021-2022, to 8,655 admissions, up from 7,424 in 2020-21.
Royal Mail data released a month earlier showed that there were 1,673 dog attacks on mail carriers in the United Kingdom in 2021, a third as many as in the U.S., but U.S. mail carriers serve more than five times as many addresses.
University of Liverpool veterinary epidemiologist John Tulloch speculated to media that the surge in dog attacks “was most likely to have been a statistical anomaly,” and noted that “the rate of dog bites against children stayed static in the years between 1998 and 2018, though they had tripled in adults,” a pattern similar to the dog attack trend lines that ANIMALS 24-7 has documented in the U.S. and Canada since 1982.
U.S. & Canadian data shows similar trend
The U.S. and Canadian data shows rising numbers of fatal and disfiguring dog attacks on both children and adults, but with a much steeper rise among adults.
The simplest, most obvious explanation for this is that the U.S. pit bull population has quadrupled since 1982, while a pit bull “grapples his opponents without in the least estimating their comparative weight and powers, as Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hamilton Smith explained in The Natural History of Dogs, published in 1839-1840 by W.H. Lizars of Edinburgh, Scotland.
This was the book that established the basis of most of the breed standards still used by the Kennel Club today.
Police & Crime Commissioner issues warning
Tulloch alleged, like the “Dog Control Coalition,” that no dog breed is more dangerous than any other, but South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner and Anglican priest Alan Billings, 80, on August 17, 2022 pointed out the obvious to Yorkshire Post senior reporter Nathan Hyde.
Regardless of what the attacking dogs are called, Billings observed, they typically “look like versions of pit bull terriers. The warning signs are clearly there: if in their heritage is a dog that at one time was prized because it could be trained to attack, that aggression may be latent; and who knows what might trigger it into action?
“I am sorry for those who find themselves confronted by such a dog,” Billings said. “And I don’t think it is a pleasant duty for officers when they are called to such incidents and have to deal with the animals.
“They can turn in an instant”
“We sorely need a national campaign to persuade people who are contemplating acquiring this type of dog, especially where they have children, to think again,” Billings emphasized. “However friendly and affectionate, they can turn in an instant.”
“The attacks in South Yorkshire have not only been on strangers,” Billings reminded Hyde, “but have also included dogs turning on their owners or other family members.
“Children and babies have been bitten and we can only imagine what might have happened if adults had not been around to distract the dogs or pull them away.
“It is not unusual,” Billings finished, “for the owners to say they couldn’t understand why the dog suddenly attacked, because they were normally so friendly and playful.”
United Kingdom dog attack fatalities
since introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, to 8-10-2022
(55 total, 70 dogs involved, 58 of them [83%] pit bull-type dogs [shown in red],
20 of the nominally prohibited pit bulls exempted as “Staffordshires.”
See “English bulldog”: two dog breeds, one name, & a rising body count.)
U.K. dog attack victim Age Date Dog
2022 Ian “Wiggy” Symes 34 years 08-10-2022 American bully XL Joanne Robinson 43 years 07-15-2022 American bully XL Keven Jones 62 years 05-23-2022 American bulldog (pit bull) Daniel Twigg 3 years 05-15-2022 Cane Corso Lawson Bond 2 years 03-28-2022 3 Rottweilers Bella-Rae Birch 17 months 03-21-2022 American bully XL Kyra Leanne King 03 months 03-06-2022 Husky John William Jones 68 years 01-10-2022 3 “British bulldogs” 2021 Adam Watts 55 years 12-22-2021 Pit bull Jack Lis 10 years 11-08-2021 American bully XL Lucille Downer 85 years 04-02-2021 2 pit bulls Keira Ladlow 25 years 02-05-2021 Staffordshire 2020 Jonny Halstead 35 years 01-29-2020 Staffordshire 2019 Elayne Stanley 44 years 09-24-2019 2 pit bulls Sharon Jennings * 55 years 06-10-2019 Pit bull Frankie Macritchie 9 years 04-13-2019 Pit bull 2018 Reuben Malachi McNulty 5 weeks 11-18-2018 2 Staffordshires 2017 Mario Perivoitos 41 years 03-20-2017 Staffordshire 2016 Archie Joe Darby 04 months 10-14-2016 Staffordshire Dexter Neal 03 years 08-21-2016 Pit bull David Ellam 52 years 08-16-2016 Staffordshire Stephen Hodgson 45 years 05-22-2016 Staffordshire/pit mix Liam Hewitson 22 years 01-01-2016 Legal "pit bull mix” 2015 Bill George 68 years 10-09-2015 Pit bull (sepsis) Irene Collins 73 years 09-04-2015 GSD/spaniel mix Reggie Young 03 weeks 06-20-2015 Patterdale terrier Rhona Greve 64 years 03-20-2015 Pit bull 2014 Lexi Branson 4 years 11-04-2014 Bull mastiff Molly Mae Wotherspoon 6 month 08-03-2014 Pit bull Eliza Mae Malone 6 days 02-18-2014 Malamute Ava Jane Corliss 11 months 02-10-2014 Pit bull Barry Walsh 46 years 01-09-2014 Staffordshire 2013 Emma Bennett 27 years 12-11-2013 Staffordshire & pit bull Lexie Hudson 5 years 11-05-2013 French mastiff (Doge du Bordeaux) Leslie Lawn *2 40 years 09-15-2013 2 Staffordshires Clifford Clarke 79 years 05-26-2013 Staffordshire/ bull mastiff mix Jade Lomas-Anderson 14 years 03-26-2013 2 Staffordshires, 2 bull mastiffs 2012 Harry Harper 01 weeks 11-21-2012 Jack Russell Gloria Knowles 71 years 10-30-2012 2 French mastiffs, 2 American bull dogs, one “small mongrel" Brian Cruse *3 78 years 09-20-2012 Pit bull 2011 Leslie Trotman *4 83 years 01-23-2011 Pit bull 2010 Barbara Williams 52 years 12-24-2010 Cane corso Zumer Ahmed 18 months 04-17-2010 Pit bull 2009 John Paul Massey 04 years 11-30-2009 Pit bull Oluwaseyi Ogunyemi *5 16 years 04-27-2009 2 Staffordshire Jaden Mack 3 months 02-06-2009 Staffordshire & Jack Russell
2008 James Rehill 78 years 01-27-2008 Rottweiler
2007 Archie-Lee Andrew Hirst 13 months 12-28-2007 Rottweiler Ellie Lawrenson 5 years 01-01-2007 Pit bull Cadey-Lee Deacon 5 months 09-24-2006 2 Rottweilers 2005 Liam Eames 1 year 07-11-2005 American bulldog 2003 George Dinham 45 years 05-16-2003 Staffordshire 2000 Kirsty Ross 25 years 07-11-2000 Doberman 1996 David Kearney 11 years 01-03-1996 2 Rottweilers 1994 Ashley Wilson 1 month 12-22-1994 Staffordshire 1993 Dean Parker 7 years 11-21-1993 Pit bull
* Broke up fight at dog park; died of sepsis.
*2 No evident cause of death; coroner claimed dogs dismembered remains after death.
*3 Suffered fatal head injury responsible for the death.
*4 Died of injuries six days after the attack.
*5 Dogs disabled the victim on command; Chrisdain Johnson, 22, was convicted of subsequently stabbing him to death.