“I share the nation’s horror,” says Rishi Sunak
LONDON, U.K.––United Kingdom prime minister Rishi Sunak on September 15, 2023 announced that his government intends to add the American Bully XL to the short list of dog breeds prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
“I share the nation’s horror at the recent videos we’ve all seen,” said Sunak, about 24 hours after two American Bully XL dogs killed Ian Price, 52, in Stonnall, Midlands, in front of his mother’s house and across the street from the primary school where his wife was a teaching assistant.
“Yesterday we saw another suspected XL bully dog attack,” Sunak said, “which has tragically led to a fatality,” believed to be the tenth attributed to the American Bully XL pit bull variant in three years, out of 21 U.K. dog attack fatalities total.
“This is not about a handful of badly trained dogs”
Seventeen of the 21 dog attack fatalities in the U.K. since 2021 have been by pit bulls, including the American Bully XL variant. Two have been inflicted by Cane Corsos. One was inflicted by a husky.
“It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs,” Sunak continued. “It’s a pattern of behavior, and it cannot go on.
“While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public.
“Today,” Sunak declared, “I have tasked ministers to bring together police and experts, to firstly define the breed of dog behind these attacks, with the view to then outlawing it.”
“A danger to our communities, particularly our children”
The American Bully XL “is not currently a breed defined in law, so this vital first step must happen fast,” Sunak explained.
“We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act. New laws will be in place by the end of the year.
“These dogs are dangerous,” Sunak emphasized. “I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”
Reported Sky News, “Earlier, in a video statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, the prime minister said: ‘The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children.”
“Home Secretary Suella Braverman also posted to X, saying: ‘Today’s tragedy underlines the need to ban the American XL Bully. They are a threat to life and cause misery in our communities. We are taking action to ban them and, in the meantime, I expect police to use all available powers to protect the public from these beasts.’”
Sunak bets his political future on American Bully XL breed ban
In office since October 2022, Sunak, 43, is in effect betting his political future on the popularity of an American Bully XL breed ban, strongly favored in recent United Kingdom public opinion polls.
Sunak promised to have the American Bully XL breed ban in effect by the end of 2023, to take full effect 18 months later, in mid-2025.
The United Kingdom prime minister is elected by the members of the House of Commons.
The maximum term in office for Parliament is five years. Since the current Parliament, including the House of Commons, first met on December 17, 2019, it will be automatically dissolved on December 17, 2024.
Sunak, the first United Kingdom prime minister of Asian ancestry, is expected to call for a general election to reconstitute the House of Commons in November 2024.
At that point full enforcement of the as yet hypothetical American Bully XL breed ban would still be approximately six months away.
“Reactivity that is totally off the scale”
Momentum currently favors Sunak, including in a petition addressed to Parliament asking for an American Bully XL breed ban, signed by more than 16,000 citizens, and in an immediate endorsement from Robert Buckland, currently the Member of Parliament from South Swindon and formerly Justice Secretary under the Boris Johnson government.
“I am deeply concerned by the rise of attacks on people, pets and livestock by XL Bully dogs,” said Buckland. “The Government should take action and ban these dogs.”
Sunak also drew quick support from “Doglistener” Stan Rawlinson.
“The XL bully is the most dangerous dog breed I’ve ever seen,” Rawlinson told BBC radio five days earlier, urging an American Bully XL breed ban. Rawlinson emphasized that the American Bully XL has an “enhanced prey drive” and “reactivity that is totally off the scale.”
“Four separate attacks on children in two days”
Recounted Sky News, “A ban on American bully XL dogs was already being looked at after shocking footage emerged of an attack in Birmingham last weekend that left an 11-year-old girl with serious injuries.
“South Yorkshire Police reported four separate dog attacks on children in two days, including one where a 15-year-old was taken to hospital after being savaged by an XL bully in Sheffield.
“Police in London are also hunting the owner of a grey pit bull-type dog that attacked a four-year-old boy on Monday.”
American Bully XL “appears from nowhere”
Arguably the second worst American Bully XL attack of the week came in Walsall, West Midlands, just six miles from the fatal attack on Ian Price.
Reported Tim Hanlon and Josh Sandiford for The Mirror, “Mohammed Sami Raza was playing football on the front drive of his house in Walsall before the out-of-control dog leapt on him and locked on during a two-minute ordeal.
Captured on closed circuit video, released to media by the victim’s father, factory worker Gohar Siddique, 36, the attack began after Raza, 10, kicked a soccer ball toward his own home.
In the video, Hanlon and Sandiford narrated, the American Bully XL “appears from nowhere and leaps on [Raza]. The youngster is knocked to the ground as the dog clamps down on his arm.
60-year-old woman arrested
“The sustained attack––which left the child with injuries to his arms and legs––lasted for more than 30 seconds before help arrived. Two women rushed to the child’s aid.
“One of the adults waved down a taxi for help before three rescuers finally freed the child from the animal’s grasp. Two women and a man could be seen hitting the animal with a toy gun and other objects before it finally released its grip and ran away.
“West Midlands Police said the dog had been put down, while a 60-year-old woman was arrested and released with a caution,” Hanlon and Sandiford said.
Pit bulls came through window to kill Ian Price
Ian Price “was attacked by the crazed animals just yards from his family home,” reported Martin Fricker and Kieren Williams of The Mirror.
Price “had been visiting his elderly mum, who lives opposite, when the dogs escaped from a neighboring property,” apparently through a window, Fricker and Williams wrote.
“Eyewitnesses told how the dogs tore his clothes from his body. Price, who ran a restoration business from the family home, was airlifted to hospital but died from his injuries.
The victim’s wife, Heather, 50, unaware her husband was being attacked, was inside the school with the children where she works, just yards away. The school was put into lockdown.
Neighbor Amanda Ward, 55, told Fricker and Williams that her student nurse daughter, “hearing screaming and barking, came running out to see what was happening. One of the dogs, a white one, was covered in blood and wagging his tail. Some other neighbors were using wheelie bins to keep the dogs away from him. He was in a terrible state.”
“Suspicion of manslaughter”
Continued Fricker and Williams, “Another eyewitness said that Price was attempting to protect his elderly mum after the dogs got through the hedge behind her house and appeared in her garden.
“Locals said the same dogs caused ‘carnage’ in the village store when they chased a dog walker about six months ago,” Fricker and Williams added.
“She was walking her dog on the playing fields. The two dogs were after her dog,” Fricker and Williams were told. “The woman was hysterical but she was unhurt. Police were called out to the incident, which saw customers jumping over the shop’s counter, it is understood.”
“Police said a 30-year-old man, from the Lichfield area, had been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. Locals said the suspect’s girlfriend lives in Stonnall and he regularly leaves the dogs alone in her flat,” Fricker and Williams concluded of the Price killing.
“Foreign” pit bulls banned but Staffordshire still exempted
The American Bully XL, if and when the proposed Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 amendment is passed by Parliament, would become the fifth “foreign” breed nominally excluded from the United Kingdom.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 already prohibits possession of four other “foreign” bully breeds, specifically the American pit bull terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero, and Japanese tosa.
However, pending the proposed new legislation, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 has been interpreted to allow possession of pit bulls identified by any other name, including American Bully (XL or otherwise), Staffordshire, Bull Mastiff, Olde English Bulldog, and Cane Corso.
Also allowed have been many other pit bull variants having the same general body type and history of use in fighting and baiting.
Dog Control Coalition members gutted Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
The devil, as in the original passage of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, will be in the details of American Bully XL definition. The stated intent of the framers of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was to prohibit possession of any and all pit bulls, but by the time the act was finalized, it had been narrowed through amendment to in effect become a blanket exemption for the overwhelming majority of pit bulls, especially those labeled “Staffordshires.”
The same coalition of dog charities that gutted the original Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is now the Dog Control Coalition, including the Royal SPCA, Dogs Trust, and the Kennel Club.
The Dog Control Coalition issued a media statement asserting that any dog breed ban should be based on “robust evidence,” alleging a “lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites,” ignoring that the purpose of the proposed American Bully XL ban is not to “prevent dog bites,” but rather to prevent fatalities and disfigurements.
“Unscrupulous & irresponsible” breeders, owners, & charities
Said the Dog Control Coalition media statement, “The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public, but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.
“For 32 years,” the Dog Control Coalition charged, “the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites, and the recent deaths show this approach isn’t working.”
The Dog Control Coalition urged Parliament to instead address “unscrupulous breeders putting profit before welfare,” and “irresponsible owners,” which at this point should include anyone either breeding or keeping pit bulls of any sort.
Indeed, the members of the Dog Control Coalition could themselves be accused of unscrupulously putting profit before welfare in their zeal to rehome the many pit bulls surrendered to them for dangerous behavior who now crowd the Royal SPCA and Dogs Trust shelters.
41 years of robust data
As to robust data, few compilations could be more robust than Breed Specific Violence & the American Bully: A Report on the Science & Regulation of Breed & Attack Risk, compiled by Bully Watch and the Campaign for Evidence Based Regulation of Dangerous Dogs.
Also worth mentioning is that United Kingdom prime minister Rishi Sunak is only two years older than the ANIMALS 24-7 log of fatal and disfiguring dog attacks in the U.S. and Canada, later expanded to include fatalities in the U.K. since 1991 and in South Africa since 2004.
The U.S and Canadian data, after more than 41 years, shows pit bulls, just 6.4% of the dog population according to our annual surveys of dogs offered for sale or adoption, accounting for 636 of 980 total dog attack fatalities (65%), and 5,782 disfiguring attacks, out of 8,213 total (75%).
The United Kingdom log shows that since the passage of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the U.K. has experienced 64 fatal dog attacks, involving 85 total dogs, 82% of them pit bull type dogs, including 20 pit bulls exempted as “Staffordshires.”
The South Africa log shows 66 fatal dog attacks, involving 106 total dogs, 80 of them pit bulls (76%).
What is an American Bully XL?
Reported Emma Ogao for ABC, “Originating in the United States in the 1980s, the American XL Bully is a cross between the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. They have been described as being ‘friendly’ pets by the American Kennel Club. Arriving in the U.K. around 2014, the breed is commonly known for its fighting ability.
“The breed has different variations: pocket, standard, classic and XL.”
Said Bully Watch UK, which favors the proposed American XL Bully ban, “The genetic makeup of these dogs is often unknown due to constant breeding, making their temperament unpredictable. Peer-reviewed medical studies from around the world clearly show that pit bull type dogs, which include the American Bully breeds, inflict the most damage when they bite. It is the style of biting, tearing at flesh and bone.”
Both the American Bully XL and the so-called Staffordshire in all variants originated from well-known U.S. fighting dog lines.
“Staffordshires” did not come from Staffordshire
“American Bully,” “American Bulldog,” and variants of those names were introduced by American dogfighter John D. Johnson, who in a 2005 affidavit described how he crossed pit bulls with mastiffs to produce them.
“Staffordshire” was introduced as a breed name by American dogfighter John P. Colby, who produced his first fighting dog litter in 1888.
NewspaperArchive.com, including British media since 1607, shows no use of the term “Staffordshire” to describe a dog breed before Colby began selling some of his dogs to British “fanciers,” as dogfighters of the era styled themselves.
Despite that history, “fanciers” including the members of the Dog Control Coalition in 1991 persuaded Parliamentarians who did not do their research that “Staffordshires” are not pit bulls and were a traditional British breed.