Amidst a surge in dog-related incidents, South Yorkshire Police Chiefs and Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, have sounded the alarm about the rising dangers posed by XL Bully dogs in the community. The number of dog-related incidents attended by the police has more than doubled over the past five years, prompting urgent action.
Assistant Chief Constable Dan Thorpe has expressed his concerns, stating, “XL Bully dogs now constitute a staggering 25% of all dogs seized by South Yorkshire Police since January 2022, and this figure continues to rise at an alarming rate.” The gravity of the situation becomes apparent when considering the escalating numbers. In 2018, there were 77 incidents recorded, but within the first half of this year alone, South Yorkshire Police have already responded to 180 incidents.
ACC Thorpe emphasized the potential risks, stating, “In the time it takes us to arrive at the scene, any of these incidents could easily result in serious injury or even death. Sadly, we have already witnessed a fatality in South Yorkshire, leaving the victim’s loved ones and the wider community devastated.”
The disproportionate representation of the XL bully breed in dog attacks cannot be ignored. ACC Thorpe revealed that 25% of the dogs seized since January 2022 in South Yorkshire belonged to this breed. Disturbingly, last year alone, 89 dogs had to be destroyed by police immediately following incidents to ensure public safety.
Although the XL Bully breed is not currently listed as dangerous, it has been responsible for several fatal dog attacks across the UK this year. ACC Dan Thorpe provided harrowing examples: “We have experienced incidents in South Yorkshire where XL Bully dogs have caused severe injuries to both children and adults. One tragic case involved a woman who purchased two dogs, believing them to be ‘gentle giants.’ Unfortunately, these dogs turned on her within her own home, inflicting fatal injuries.”
These XL Bully dogs appear to possess a heightened propensity for aggression, and once they turn, even experienced owners find themselves with limited options due to the breed’s sheer power and strength. It is crucial for the public to be aware of these risks.
ACC Thorpe issued a clear message to anyone who encounters these powerful dogs, whether as an owner or a bystander: “Many of these dogs are bred for their aggressive traits. Exercise caution at all times and educate your children about them.” He underscored the severity of injuries inflicted by these dogs, stating that some are too gruesome to be shared publicly. The ultimate goal is to prevent such tragic incidents from happening to anyone else.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, echoed these concerns, expressing increasing worry about the rising number of reports detailing dog attacks resulting in significant injuries and even fatalities. He noted that this problem extends beyond South Yorkshire and is occurring throughout the country.
During the pandemic, the national dog population surged from 9 million to over 12 million, with many individuals acquiring dogs for the first time, lacking prior experience, socialization, and access to dog training classes. Now, as these lockdown puppies mature into adult dogs, the consequences are becoming evident. Dr Billings highlighted the unpredictability and predisposition of certain breeds to suddenly turn and become aggressive, particularly as they reach maturity. He stressed, “There are certain breeds that should not be placed in homes with children due to their inherent unpredictability and predisposition towards aggression.”
The statistics surrounding dog-related incidents are undeniably alarming. 2022 saw the highest number of deaths caused by dogs nationwide and South Yorkshire alone witnesses several incidents involving dogs each day. Dr Billings has taken steps to address his concerns, writing to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, who are now engaging with ministers directly on this critical issue.
The growing concerns raised by South Yorkshire Police and Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, regarding XL Bully dogs and the increasing number of dog-related incidents demand our attention. The statistics presented by Assistant Chief Constable Dan Thorpe are alarming, shedding light on the potential risks these dogs pose to public safety.
While it is crucial to acknowledge that XL Bully dogs are not inherently dangerous solely due to their breed, the observed patterns of aggression and the severity of injuries caused cannot be ignored. The incidents involving these dogs highlight the need for responsible ownership and heightened awareness among the public, especially when it comes to interacting with powerful breeds.
Dr Billings rightly draws attention to the impact of the pandemic on the dog population, with a significant increase in new dog owners who may lack experience, socialization opportunities, and access to training classes. This situation underscores the importance of comprehensive education and support for owners, as well as advocating for responsible breeding practices.
As discussions progress between the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and government officials, it is crucial that the concerns raised are addressed through a balanced approach that considers both public safety and the welfare of these dogs. Finding effective solutions will require collaboration among law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and responsible dog breeders to ensure a safer environment for all.
By fostering a culture of responsible ownership and providing resources for education and training, we can mitigate the risks associated with XL Bully dogs and work towards preventing tragic incidents from occurring in the future. The well-being of both humans and animals should be at the forefront of these efforts, as we strive to create a harmonious coexistence within our communities.