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American XL Bully dogs to be banned after series of attacks, says Rishi Sunak

The Government will ban the American XL Bully dog by the end of the year, Rishi Sunak has said.

Speaking on Friday morning, the Prime Minister said “new laws” would be in place by the end of the year to ban the breed after a spate of attacks, some of which have been fatal.

It came as a man was pronounced dead following a dog attack in Walsall, with work ongoing to confirm the breed of dog involved.

Ian Price, 52, died in hospital after being seriously injured in Main Street, Stonnall, at about 3.15pm on Thursday.

A custody extension has been granted giving detectives another 10 hours to continue questioning a 30-year-old man from South Staffordshire in connection with the incident. He was arrested on suspicion of being in charge of dogs dangerously out of control and manslaughter.

DNA testing is underway to confirm the breed of the dogs, but expert examination so far indicates they are XL bullies.

Nursery worker Amanda Ward said her daughter Amy, 20, heard an ear-piercing scream” coming from the garden and went to investigate.

She told MailOnline: “In the end some brave locals used wheelie bins to separate the dogs from the man and they tied one of the dogs’ legs together.

“The other dog went back to its flat.”

Ian Price was confirmed as the victim of the attack (Staffordshire Police)
Ian Price was confirmed as the victim of the attack (Staffordshire Police)

Ms Ward claimed that Mr Price had been protecting his elderly mother at the time of the attack.

Neighbour Matt, 43, said Mr Price was a “lovely guy”, adding: “It could have been me or my wife or any of us in the village.”

Staffordshire Police later confirmed that one of the dogs died after being restrained and the other died after being injected by a vet.

The force also revealed that officers had been in touch with the dog owner twice this year, prompted by reports from concerned members of the public.

It said its Professional Standards Department has reviewed body-worn video of the fatal incident and the previous reports relating to both dogs and concluded there will be no referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The police received a report on January 14 saying that two XL bully dogs were off their lead in a field in Stonnall.

Officers went to the owner’s address and gave words of advice around keeping the dogs under control while in a shared public place.

The owner was co-operative and both dogs were in the address at the time and appeared to be calm, police said. They did not show any signs of aggression towards officers.

Floral tributes outside the property in Stonnall, Staffordshire (Matthew Cooper/PA Wire)
Floral tributes outside the property in Stonnall, Staffordshire (Matthew Cooper/PA Wire)

Meanwhile, the Government has been under increasing pressure to outlaw the breed after footage showed an 11-year-old girl being attacked by a Bully-Staffie cross in Birmingham last weekend.

In a clip released on Twitter, Mr Sunak said: “The American XL Bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly to our children.

“I share the nation’s horror at the videos we’ve all seen. Yesterday we saw another suspected XL Bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality.

“It’s clear this is not about a handful of badly-trained dogs. It’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.”

Mr Sunak said work would first take place to define the breed in law, describing it as a “vital” first step before it can be outlawed.

“We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year,” he said.

“These dogs are dangerous, I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”

An XL Bully (MrsRoberson Wikicommons)
An XL Bully (MrsRoberson Wikicommons)

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans any breeds that appear to be “bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose”.

So far, only four breeds are on the list: the American pitbull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the Dogo Argentinos and the Fila Brazileiro.

The American bully XL can weigh more than nine stone (60kg) and is strong enough to overpower an adult.

It has been linked with a series of fatal attacks, including that of a 65-year-old grandmother in Liverpool and the death of a 17-month-old toddler in St Helens last year.

Among those who had been calling for a ban were Emma Whitfield, whose 10-year-old son Jack Lis, was fatally attacked by a bully XL named Beast in Caerphilly, South Wales, two years ago.

However, the Dog Control Coalition, which includes the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, has previously resisted calls for a ban on American bully dogs, saying it would not adequately protect the public.

It has called for the Government to instead focus on promoting responsible dog ownership and training.