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UK Dangerous Dogs Act exempts the two breeds most likely to kill

(Beth Clifton collage)

Two-year-old & 17-month-old are two latest victims of legal omission

WORCESTERSHIRE, United Kingdom––A pre-inquest review of the March 28, 2022 fatal Rottweiler mauling of two-year-old Lawson Bond, now set for August 31, 2022 in Stourport, is likely to investigate every aspect of Bond’s death except the obvious: that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, supposed to protect the British public from the dogs most likely to kill someone, instead exempted the two dog breeds who are most likely to kill someone.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Rottweilers & “Staffordshires” get free pass

Specifically, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 exempted Rottweilers, and while nominally prohibiting possession of pit bulls, exempted them too, so long as they are called “Staffordshires.”

Lawson Bond “suffered serious injuries and was in cardiac arrest” after the attack at his parents’ home in rural Egdon, wrote Evesham-Journal reporter Joseph Broady. Bond died in Birmingham Children’s Hospital two days later.

Fluffy, from the film Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone (1997), was inspired by Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to hell in Greek mythology.

Three Rotts removed from property

“Three Rottweilers were removed from the property following the attack,” Broady continued. “The dogs were securely housed by West Mercia police for a number of weeks and were subsequently put down.”

“There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing,” Broady finished.

17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch suffered fatal injuries a week to the day earlier at her home in St. Helens, 115 miles straight north, inflicted by a dog initially described by Kieran Gair of The Times of London as “a Staffordshire bull terrier or pit bull-type.”

Added Gair, “Police said the family had bought the dog only a week ago.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

“American bully XL”

updated Sunday Times associate editor Rod Liddle a day later, “An American bully XL dog savaged the little girl as her mother, Treysharn Bates, screamed.

“This is a horrible, mortifying and desperately sad story, and perhaps the correct response should be simply to grieve for that young life taken away and to sympathize with the family. That is usually what we do in such circumstances — and as a consequence the death is soon forgotten as just another one of those awful things that happen by chance.”

However, noted Liddle, after evidently reviewing but not mentioning the ANIMALS 24-7 breed-specific list of British dog attack fatalities, the current edition of which is below, “There are no Labs or King Charles spaniels or poodles on that list of British deaths from dogs. But then the sort of people who buy pit bulls wouldn’t be seen dead with a King Charles. It is the very ferocity of these animals — usually given an agreeable name such as Tyson or Satan or Hitler — that attracts them.”

(Beth Clifton collage)

(See Dog attacks arise 76% in England in 10 years, coinciding with exemption of Staffordshire pit bulls from the Dangerous Dogs Act.)

“Foreign” pit bull variants were banned

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 banned American pit bull terriers, Japanese tosas, Fila Brasileiros, and Dogo Argentinos––all of them breeds produced and historically used chiefly for dogfighting, and all considered foreign.

Fifteen people had been killed by dogs in Great Britain in the decade before the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was introduced, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Rottweiler. (Beth Clifton photo)

Why not Rotts?

That Rottweilers were not named in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ban is somewhat understandable.

No Rottweiler killed anyone in Britain before December 2007, when 13-month-old Archie-Lee Andrew Hirst, son of 18-year-old Rebecca Hirst and 20-year-old Damien Williamson, was mauled in his grandparents’ garden in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Police shot the Rottweiler who killed Hirst at the scene.

However, Rottweilers had killed six Americans in the six years preceding the passage of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Even a cursory look at dog attack fatalities in other nations should have shown Parliament that Rottweilers had become the dog breed second most likely to kill someone, though very far behind pit bulls.

The Royal SPCA attacked the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and dismissed the concerns of dog attack victims in a report entitled Breed Specific Legislation: A Dog’s Dinner.

RSPCA & National Canine Defense League

That the pit bull ban was weakened by exempting “Staffordshires” indicates chiefly that the British parliamentarians simply failed to educate themselves in response to vigorous lobbying from pit bull advocates, including within the Royal SPCA of Great Britain and Dogs Trust, then still known by the original name National Canine Defense League.

(See The RSPCA recommends you & your pets for a pit bull’s dinner.)

The initial advocates for banning pit bulls, then known simply as “bulldogs,” were prominent dog fanciers themselves, who also fought successfully to ban baiting bulls and bears with dogs and dogfighting.

Write Thomas Bewick in A General History of Quadrupeds (1807), “As the bulldog always makes his attack without barking, it is very dangerous to approach him alone, without great precaution.”

(Painting by Julius Caesar Ibbetson, 1759-1817.)

“Barbarous & infamous purposes”

The 1818 Manual of British Field Sports asserted that, “The bulldog, devoted solely to the most barbarous and infamous purposes, the real blackguard of his species, has no claim upon utility, humanity, or common sense, and the total extinction of the breed is a desirable consummation.”

Observed Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hamilton Smith, author of The Natural History of Dogs, published serially in 1839-1840 by WH Lizars of Edinburgh, Scotland, and generally recognized as the first definitive encyclopedia of dog breeds, “The bull-dog is possessed of less sagacity and less attachment than any of the hound tribe; he is therefore less favoured, and more rarely bred with care, except by professed amateurs of sports and feelings little commendable to humanity. He never leaves his hold of him, when once he has got it, while life lasts.

John P. Colby & pitbull Bill.

The “Staffordshire” was invented in response to ban

Contrary to pit bull mythology, there was no dog line in Britain, either then or until 150 years later, called a “Staffordshire.”

This is easily verified just by searching the multi-century archives of British newspapers accessible at

The “Staffordshire” name originated as a sales ploy by dogfighter John P. Colby, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, who produced his first litter of fighting dogs in 1889.

John P. Colby often posed his “Staffordshires” with children.

Colby pits had history of mauling children

the bostonglobe on December 29, 1906 reported that police shot one of his dogs, who mauled a boy while a girl escaped.

On February 2, 1909 the Globe described how one of Colby’s dogs killed Colby’s two-year-old nephew, Bert Colby Leadbetter.

Unable to secure an American Kennel Club pedigree for his pit bulls under names that the AKC associated with dogfighting, Colby chartered the Staffordshire Club of America.

The AKC then accepted the Colby pit bulls as a pedigreed line. As the breed standard for the Staffordshire, the AKC chose the fighting dog known as Colby’s Primo.

The United Kingdom banned pit bulls in 1991 but not Staffordshires, another name for the same dog.

“Staffordshire” name gave pit bulls cover

Colby’s wife Florence continued the Colby breeding program after her husband’s death in 1941. She also served as president of the Staffordshire Club of America. Two of Colby’s sons helped to popularize pit bulls under the Staffordshire name: Joseph Colby, author of american pit bull terrier (1936), and Louis Colby, co-author with Diane Jessup of Colby’s Book of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Both books make explicitly clear that a Staffordshire is a pit bull––and Colby himself continued to fight his Staffordshire pit bulls to the end of his life.

The Colby use of the name “Staffordshires,” unprecedented in Britain until Colby late in life sold some pit bulls to British dogfighters, gave cover to pit bull advocates to claim that Staffordshires were a separate and safer ancient English breed.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Parliament swallowed “Staffordshire” claim like a pit bull swallows a spaniel

Parliament appears to have swallowed that argument without even asking for supporting evidence.

“The intention of the Dangerous Dogs Act was to eliminate breeds like pit bulls in this country,” then-home secretary Kenneth Lord Baker recalled in a 2010 interview with TheDaily Telegraph.

(Beth Clifton collage)

Attacks soared

“For the first five years it worked very well,” Baker said, “but as soon as the Government gave in to animal charities, the whole thing was doomed.”

There were six dog attack fatalities in the UK from 1992 through 1996, the first five years that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was in effect.

There were eight dog attack fatalities in the UK during the next five years, from 1997 through 2001, and then 17 from 2002 through 2006, followed by 19 from 2007 through 2011.

The five-year time frame from 2012 through 2016 brought 22 UK dog attack fatalities.

staffordshire bull terrier
(Beth Clifton photo)

Half of Fatalities by “Staffordshires”

Intensified enforcement of the ban on “American” pit bulls cut the death toll to just 10 from 2017 through 2021, but five of the 10 fatalities were affected by “Staffordshires.”

Then came three dog attack deaths in the first three months of 2022.

Kyra Leanne King, reportedly killed on March 6, 2022 by her parents’ husky, was the first reported UK husky victim.

Forty-three people in all have been killed by attacks involving 57 dogs in the UK since 2007. Among those dogs were 40 pit bulls, 18 of them officially identified by British authorities as Staffordshires.

Surveying reports of 3,179 cruelty and neglect cases, dog attack cases, and dogfighting cases published worldwide from January 2005 to May 1, 2022, ANIMALS 24-7 found the same dogs described as both Staffordshires and pit bulls in 2,447 cases, or 77%.

UK dog attack victim Age Date Dog

Lawson Bond                2 years   03-28-2022   3 Rottweilers
Bella-Rae Birch           17 months  03-21-2022   American bully XL 
Kyra Leanne King          03 months  03-06-2022   Husky
Adam Watts                55 years   12-22-2021   Pit bull
Jack Lis                  10 years   11-08-2021   American bully XL
Lucille Downer            85 years   04-02-2021   2 pit bulls
Keira Ladlow              25 years   02-05-2021   Staffordshire
Jonny Halstead            35 years   01-29-2020   Staffordshire 
Elayne Stanley            44 years   09-24-2019   2 pit bulls
Sharon Jennings **        55 years   06-10-2019   Pit bull 
Frankie Macritchie         9 years   04-13-2019   Pit bull
Reuben Malachi McNulty     5 weeks   11-18-2018   2 Staffordshires
Mario Perivoitos          41 years   03-20-2017   Staffordshire
Archie Joe Darby          04 months  10-14-2016   Staffordshire
Dexter Neal               03 years   08-21-2016   Pit bull
David Ellam               52 years   08-16-2016   Staffordshire
Stephen Hodgson           45 years   05-22-2016   Staffordshire/pit mix
Liam Hewitson             22 years   01-01-2016   Legal "pit bull mix”
Bill George               68 years   10-09-2015   Pit bull (sepsis)
Irene Collins             73 years   09-04-2015   GSD/spaniel mix
Reggie Young              03 weeks   06-20-2015   Patterdale terrier
Rhona Greve               64 years   03-20-2015   Pit bull
Lexi Branson               4 years   11-04-2014   Bull mastiff
Molly Mae Wotherspoon      6 month   08-03-2014   Pit bull
Eliza Mae Malone           6 days    02-18-2014   Malamute
Ava Jane Corliss          11 months  02-10-2014   Pit bull
Barry Walsh               46 years   01-09-2014   Staffordshire
Emma Bennett              27 years   12-??-2013   Staffordshire & pit
Lexie Hudson               5 years   11-05-2013   French mastiff
                                                  (Doge du Bordeaux)
Leslie Lawn *             40 years   09-??-2013   Staffordshires (2)
Clifford Clarke           79 years   05-26-2013   Staffordshire/
                                                     bull mastiff mix
Jade Lomas-Anderson       14 years   03-26-2013   2 Staffordshires, 
                                                  2 bull mastiffs
Harry Harper              01 weeks   11-21-2012   Jack Russell
Gloria Knowles            71 years   10-30-2012   2 French mastiffs,
                               2 American bull dogs, one “small mongrel"
Brian Cruse +             78 years   09-20-2012   Pit bull
Leslie Trotman @          83 years   01-23-2011   Pit bull
Barbara Williams          52 years   12-24-2010   Cane corso
Zumer Ahmed               18 months  04-17-2010   Pit bull
John Paul Massey          04 years   11-30-2009   Pit bull
Oluwaseyi Ogunyemi #      16 years   04-??-2007   2 Staffordshires
Jaden Mack                03 months  02-06-2009   Staffordshire & 
                                                     Jack Russell
Archie-Lee Andrew Hirst   13 months  12-??-2007   Rottweiler
Ellie Lawrenson           05 years   01-01-2007   Pit bull
Merritt, Teddy, & Beth Clifton.

* No obvious cause of death; coroner claimed dogs dismembered remains after death.
+ Suffered fatal head injury responsible for the death.
@ Died of injuries six days after the attack.
# Dogs disabled the victim on command; Chrisdain Johnson, 22, was convicted of subsequently stabbing him to death.
** Broke up fight at dog park; died of sepsis.

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