Police issue warning after young girl mauled by her family’s dog

Breed related to banned XL bully left child under 10 with puncture wounds needing hospital care

Jane Dalton
Friday 10 May 2024 16:46 BST
Stock image of an American pocket bully dog
Stock image of an American pocket bully dog (Getty Images)

A young girl was repeatedly bitten on the head by her family’s dog in their garden, prompting police to plead with parents not to leave pet dogs alone with children.

The child was playing unattended outside at her home and fell when the dog ran over and began biting her head, according to South Yorkshire Police.

The girl’s mother was able to free her from the pet – believed to be a pocket bully – and called 999.

It’s been illegal to own, breed or sell American XL bullies without an exemption certificate in England and Wales since 1 February this year, but the law does not cover pocket bullies.

The breed is close to the banned XL bully
The breed is close to the banned XL bully (Getty Images)

The ban was introduced after a spate of attacks on people by dogs, in particular XL bullies, which are deliberately bred to be heavy and powerful.

There are four types of American bullies: standard, pocket, classic and XL. Only XLs were covered by the ban but the others are similar breeds.

The child, who police said was under 10, was taken to hospital with puncture wounds. Her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Dog legislation officers went to the family home in Maltby, Rotherham, and the dog was signed over to police, the force said.

Police urged families not to leave youngsters and dogs together and remember that dogs, “no matter how long you have owned them for, are animals and can show signs of aggression no matter their previous history”.

They added dogs cannot communicate if they are in pain, stressed or anxious, which can influence their behaviour.

Chief inspector Emma Cheney asked parents to stop thinking it won’t happen to them, adding: “Please remember all dogs can be aggressive and should never be left unsupervised with children.

“A dog’s instinct to protect itself is to bite and follow their innate drives.

“Parents should ensure children learn to respect a dog’s space and be encouraged to have boundaries around feeding and resting times.

“An incident like this is a stark reminder that regardless of a dog’s nature, or previous interactions with children, other dogs and people, dogs can act out of character and cause serious injury and harm.”

The force highlighted research showing people are more likely to be bitten by a dog they know, and at home, than anywhere else.

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