American Bully dog fatal attacks are on the rise in the UK, but the breed is not considered a danger
Fatal attacks by American Bully dogs on humans appear to be on the increase, but the breed is not considered dangerous under UK law.
Baby Bella-Rae Birch, 17 months, was mauled to death by an XL version of the dog on Monday at her home in St Helen’s, Merseyside.
The tragic child’s family had only purchased the animal a week earlier.
It comes after calls from an MP for the Dangerous Dogs Act to be ‘strengthened’.
The latest available data from the Office for National Statistics shows that there has been a record number of dog attacks in 2020with 1,700 children injured.
Official figures say 22 people were killed in dog attacks in England and Wales between 2013 and 2019.
However, the ONS does not hold information regarding the breed of the dog as this information is not recorded on death certificates.
Unofficial data suggests there have been nine fatal dog attacks since January 2020, three of which involved American Bully dogs, all between November last year and today.
Prior to this, there does not appear to be any recorded fatal attacks in this country involving this breed – although it is impossible to say for sure.
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Merseyside Police / SWNS.COM)
At a press conference outside the Birch family home, Merseyside Police Superintendent Steve Brizell said the dog was handed over to police at the address and destroyed without cruelty.
He added that detailed investigations were continuing to identify the previous owners and establish his story.
Forensic tests were then carried out to determine the race.
Neighbors said Bella-Rae’s father, Ryan Birch, bought the animal – who appeared to have reached adulthood – “for pimples” days before the attack.
“Even an adult wouldn’t stand a chance against a dog like that,” said one resident. the MailOnline.
Echo of Liverpool)
It comes just months after schoolboy Jack Lis died after being attacked by another American Bully XL in Caerphilly, Wales on November 8 last year.
The 10-year-old suffered “serious head and neck injuries” in the incident at a friend’s home before the dog was shot by police.
The eight-stone animal was named Beast and was initially mistakenly identified by police as an American Bulldog.
Kennel owner Adam Watts, who has dedicated his life to saving dogs and campaigning for their welfare, was also killed last December by an American Bully XL.
The 55-year-old was attacked at Juniper Kennels and Cattery in Kirkton of Auchterhouse, near Dundee, on December 22.
His death left his five children orphans, days before Christmas.
Meanwhile, in August last year, a four-year-old boy was mauled by what was thought to be an XL outside a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Wolverhampton.
Horrified shoppers witnessed the attack in Kenmare Way on August 11, describing how the animal suddenly jumped on them.
One said the child received a ‘nasty’ bite on his upper leg.
A supermarket worker said the dog belonged to a homeless man who often sat outside the entrance.
But the man told reporters at the scene that his 11-month-old pet named Donnie had simply given the boy ‘food’.
The boy was taken to hospital for treatment, but West Midlands Police said his injuries did not appear to be life changing.
The Bully is a relatively young designer breed that originated in the United States in the 1980s – designed as a more family friendly version of the American Pitbull Terrier.
It comes in several sizes, including the largest XL.
Various breeders have combined American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Olde English Bulldogges, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and French Bulldogs.
The end result was the modern American Bully, which was recognized as a breed by the US United Kennel Club in 2013.
The club describe the Bullies as generally gentle and friendly, with “a zest and exuberance for life” – while attacking humans is out of character.
In fact, generally smaller than American Bulldogs and easier to train, they often act as companion dogs.
The breed is not subject to any prohibitions under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
The only dogs banned in the UK are the Pitbull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro.
The 1991 Act also criminalizes crossbreeding of the four illegal types – meaning that a dog’s banning will depend on a judgment of its physical characteristics and whether they fit the description of a prohibited ‘type’.
In light of Jack’s death, Wayne David, the Labor MP for Caerphilly, called for a change to the current law, saying: ‘There needs to be a review of the Dangerous Dogs Act to see if it should be enhanced.”
American bullies were, however, at the center of an illegal ear cropping scandal last year amid a puppy boom.
The BBC documentary The Hidden World of Designer Dog Breeding in July 2021 revealed a network of backyard breeders who mutilated the ears of baby dogs in a bid to make them tougher.
During the documentary, Vanessa Waddon, the founder of Hope Rescue in Llanharan, who took in six puppies with cropped ears late last year, said she believed social media was driving demand.
Vanessa said: “There are a lot of Instagram influencers, a lot of celebrities who have these type of dogs. They post them on their social media feeds.
“The average person wouldn’t be able to afford those prices, so they might be tempted to pick up a dog from a backyard breeder or an unlicensed breeder who is doing it illegally in this country.”
In January, Jedd Wiegold was imprisoned for his involvement in organizing and ear-cutting American Bully puppies, reports WalesOnline.
The 32-year-old, from Machen in the borough of Caerphilly, bred and sold Bully puppies for at least two years which he had mutilated with cropped ears to earn extra money.
The violations occurred between March 24, 2019 and March 23, 2020, when Wiegold bred and advertised more than three breeding female dogs and litters.
The full extent of his earnings are not known, but puppies have been advertised up to £6,500 and £10,000.