Probe reveals dog attacks rocket after pandemic with nine people dead this year

The Mirror today demands new laws on dangerous dogs after our investigation showed a 26% rise in attacks since the pandemic began in 2020.

The death of Ann Dunn, 65, this week was the ninth fatal attack in 2022, making it the deadliest year on record.

Dot Robinson, the mum of another victim, backs our campaign. She said: “We must end these nightmare deaths now.”

Heartbroken Dot last month did what no mother should have to do and attended the funeral of her own child, a daughter who was attacked and killed by a dog.

Today Dot, 67, speaks for the first time about the tragedy, breaking her silence to support our campaign to tighten the laws on dangerous dogs.

She told us: “We have to stop this hell. Something needs to happen, too many people have died.”

A Mirror probe today shows a disturbing rise in dog attacks since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

After we asked police forces for data on dog attacks, 30 responded to reveal almost 10,000 crimes involving dogs so far this year.

There were 7,790 incidents from January to July in 2020, rising to 9,834 for the same period this year – a 26% increase.

Since the Office for National Statistics began recording fatal dog attacks in 2013, there have never been more than five a year, but this year there have already been nine.

Ann Dunn, 65, was the latest fatality, mauled to death on Monday by a pack of American bulldogs. Five dogs were destroyed and a 31-year-old man has been arrested.

It is estimated that there are now 12 million dogs in the UK, two million more than before lockdown.

Ian Briggs, head of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, described our findings as “really shocking”.

He said: “Since lockdown, we have been expecting this tsunami of welfare and dog behaviour issues. People who bought dogs might never have had one and we are now seeing the fallout from this.”

In the West Midlands, there has been a 50% rise in dog crime since 2020. The force has seized 428 dogs so far this year, and there have been 686 dangerous dog attacks or incidents, up from 422 for the same period in 2020.

In London, in the same periods, dog attacks rose from 1,097 to 1,606. In Cumbria, it went from 129 to 205 and in Wiltshire from 159 to 247.

Animals seized range from a tiny Chihuahua to American XL bulldogs, the breed which killed Dot’s 43-year-old daughter Joanne. She was seized around the throat by her 18-month-old American XL “bully” Rocco on July 15.

Her boyfriend of 22 years, Jamie Stead, 42, survived, but was seriously injured in the attack at their home in West Melton, South Yorks.

Joanne’s children, Dillon, 24, and Elle, 19, have been devastated by her death.

Their mum had decided to get two XL “bully” dogs, seeing them as “gentle giants”.

Dot said: “Having those dogs made Jo happy. They were like her babies.” But as they got older the dogs began fighting.

Dot said: “I’ve never seen a dog as big as Rocco, he was the size of a lion. I begged her to get rid of one of them. They had to separate them, they were living in different rooms. Rocco was our Jo’s. She adored that dog and said, ‘I can’t give up on him, Mum’.”

Dot is struggling to cope with Jo’s death. She said: “I can’t believe I am never going to see her again.” She said: “They should have special licences for these bigger breeds. Our Jo had tried to do everything right, but they were just so big and strong.’

Both dogs have now been destroyed.

The RSPCA wants the Dangerous Dogs Act to change, saying its ban on specific breeds does nothing to reduces dog bites.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home says the act “is not fit for purpose”. Defra said its “Responsible Dog Ownership project” had been set up to “look at dog control issues”.

Experts and charities have long slammed the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The RSPCA insist it should be about “responsible dog ownership”. In particular, the RSPCA believes Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, which applies to breeding specific legislation, is not effective in reducing dog bites.

And the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home say it discriminates against dogs based on looks alone whilst there “has also been a tragic increase in dog bites”.

On their website they write: “The law is not fit for purpose and in urgent need of reform, but successive governments have long resisted change.

“The Government has committed to reviewing the evidence on this issue, something Battersea warmly welcomes.”

Experts and charities have long slammed the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The RSPCA insist it should be about “responsible dog ownership”.

And the Battersea say it discriminates against dogs based on looks alone whilst there “has also been a tragic increase in dog bites”.

On their website they write: “The law is not fit for purpose and in urgent need of reform, but successive governments have long resisted change.

“The Government has committed to reviewing the evidence on this issue, something Battersea warmly welcomes.”

Tragic victims so far this year
January 19, 2022 John Jones, 68, who had Down’s syndrome, was fatally bitten by three British bulldog-type animals at his home in Lampeter, South West Wales.
March 6, 2022 Three-month-old Kyra Leanne King was killed at a dog walking spot in Woodhall Spa, Lincs. A couple were arrested on suspicion of being in charge of an out-of- control Husky dog.
March 21, 2022 Bella-Rae Birch, aged 17 months, died at home in St Helens, Merseyside, after being attacked by a dog her family had owned for only a week. Police confirmed it was an American bully XL.
March 28, 2022 Lawson Bond, two, died of serious injuries after a dog attack in Egdon, Worcs. Three rottweilers were destroyed.
May 15, 2022 Daniel John Twigg, three, died in an attack by a Cane Corso outside a property in Rochdale, Gtr Manchester. The dog was put down.
May 23, 2022 Keven Jones, 65, died of blood loss from his left leg after being bitten by his son Josh’s American bully XL in Wrexham, North Wales.
July 15, 2022 Joanne Robinson, 43, died in a mauling by an American bully XL in West Melton, South Yorks.
August 10, 2022 Dog trainer Ian Symes, 34, was killed at a park in Portsmouth by an American bully XL.
October 3, 2022, Ann Dunn, 65, died after being attacked by five dogs in a house in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool.