AS a dog behaviourist of four decades, I have worked with every breed known to man and have never refused to work with an animal.
I believe the American XL Bully is the most dangerous dog ever created — predatory, over-reactive, stimulated by movement, distrustful of strangers and incredibly strong.
Three of the victims were professional dog handlers, including Adam Watts, a well-respected behaviourist who was trying to retrain a Bully responsible for two previous street attacks when it turned on him.
I was an expert witness when the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act came in, and one of my specialities is in all types of canine aggression.
Not meant to be pets
In some cases, there are ways to handle it — but I can tell you that you have about 30 seconds to save your life when a Bully attacks.
They go for the jugular vein in the neck and the only way to protect yourself is to curl up in a ball facing downwards, with your neck tucked in to protect that area.
Those defending the Bully say there’s no such thing as bad dogs, only bad owners — but these are dogs that are not meant to be kept as pets.
They were bred for dog-fighting and two of the main breeds used to create XL Bullys are the American bulldog and American pit bull terrier — both commonly used in the sport of schutzhund.
It’s a mainly German sport, known also as IGP, which tests a dog’s tracking, obedience and protection skills.
The aim is to bring a man down.
These dogs have a powerful genetic disposition to be aggressive.
They are the type of dogs that were used in bull and bear-baiting and also hark back genetically to the dogs of war used by the Romans to help create their empire.
In America, where they became popular in the Eighties thanks to the hip-hop music scene, these dogs are described as gentle family animals that are good with children.
Unfortunately the record of this dog’s behaviour in Britain matches none of those characteristics.
I imagine that the gene pool in the UK is far smaller than in America, and the dogs here have been bred and bred.
American XLs make up just a fraction of dogs in the UK but they are the ones doing almost all the killing.
They have been linked to nine deaths, including those of three children, since 2021.
Brits are 270 times more likely to be killed by American Bullys than any other breed of dog.
When you look at the footage from the attack in Birmingham over the weekend you can see how big and powerful these animals are.
This one was hit with a spade but barely blinked.
When an XL killed ten-year-old Jack Lis in South Wales in November 2021, his mum — who has been campaigning against the breed — revealed how he had to be identified by his shoe.
That’s how much damage this type of dog is capable of doing.
When Bully owners show their dogs in the ring, XL males must be no more than 23 inches tall and females 22 inches.
The males can weigh between 70 and 130 pounds of muscle and bone.
Of course these sizes are only for the show ring.
Many for sale in Britain are far heavier and taller and can weigh more than 150lb.
Over the years, I have had to assess many dogs that were banned breeds or had attacked or killed somebody.
The majority were psychologically and temperamentally sound.
I actually felt the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act was flawed from the outset and is unfit for purpose, because I have always been against breed-specific legislation as it doesn’t take socialisation or training into account.
The breeders who tinker with genetics and DNA for profit or fun are the real villains of the piece.
However, I believe the XL Bully is so dangerous that the general public should never be allowed to own one.
Mentality of wild animal
For the first time ever, I feel that something drastic has to be done to stop this hyper-reactive breed.
We need to ban all imports from America and any other country that is selling them here.
Then we must stop people breeding them and selling these animals in all parts of the UK.
And we should consider bringing in a licensing system for all dog owners that would see people take a short written and practical exam to prove they are responsible enough to own a dog.
In the meantime, Home Secretary Suella Braverman must listen to the experts and look at the clear evidence that the XL Bully is an aggressor, not just to people but to other animals.
The reality is these dogs have the size and mentality of a dangerous wild animal.
The bottom line is: Would someone be allowed to walk around the streets of London with a mountain lion?
- Stan Rawlinson is a dog behaviourist and expert witness under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. He runs doglistener.co.uk.