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What transpired the last time dangerous dogs were banned in Britain


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    The announcement today that the American XL Bully will be banned by the end of the year following a series of attacks will be welcome news to many.

    Rishi Sunak said the dogs would be banned following a 'pattern of behaviour' that 'cannot go on'.

    His words come more than 30 years after then Home Secretary Kenneth Baker vowed to rid the country of the 'menace' of the pit bull terrier following a string of attacks - including the mauling of six-year-old Rukhsana Khan in Bradford. 

    With the passing of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991, the pit bull - along with the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro - were all banned.

    Anyone who owned a banned breed when the legislation came into force had to neuter their dog and get it registered with both a tattoo and microchip.

    Banned dogs also had to be fitted with muzzles when taken out for walks and owners had to purchase third-party insurance in case their animal hurt someone. 

    But the Daily Mail reported shortly before a deadline came into force in 1991 that three in four owners of the 10,000 pit bulls in Britain had failed to register their dogs - a fact which highlights the scale of the challenge involved in banning the XL Bully.  

    Another victim before the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed was grandfather Frank Tempest, who had his nose bitten off and suffered other serious injuries after being attacked by two pit bulls in April 1991. 

    Rukhsana's and Mr Tempest's cases had been among nine others in 1991 that were brought to Parliament.

    More than 30 years ago, a horrifying attack on a little girl shocked the nation and stirred John Major 's Government into action. Rukhsana Khan was left with life-threatening injuries after being mauled by a pit bull terrier near her home in Bradford in May 1991

    American Bully XLs will be banned in the UK by the end of the year

    The Dangerous Dogs Act also criminalised owners for allowing any dog to 'be dangerously out of control'.

    However, the legislation has proved controversial amid a persistent increase in dog bites. 

    Leading animal charity the RSPCA has previously said that the legislation led people to believe that dogs that are not banned are safe.

    Battersea Dogs & Cats Home was another critic, saying the act was a 'poorly thought-out, knee-jerk piece of legislation that pays no regard to the consequences'.

    Mr Sunak will now be grappling with how to  

    After the attack on Rukhsana, Mr Baker is said to have even considered ordering the destruction of all pit bulls. 

    There were around 10,000 in the UK at the time the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed. 

    The American pit bull originated in England and was bred with fighting in mind. 

    It was used in the likes of bull and bear baiting until the early 19th century, when both activities were banned. 

    Rukhsana was attacked as she crossed a playground with her sister, four cousins and two aunts. 

    The pit bull, which was being exercised by a pregnant woman, slipped its lead before targeting the little girl. 

    Another victim before the legislation was passed was grandfather Frank Tempest, who had his nose bitten off and suffered other serious injuries after being attacked by two pit bulls

    Within three months, officials led by Home Secretary Kenneth Baker had passed the Dangerous Dogs Act, making the UK one of the first countries in the world to ban certain breeds of dog. Above: A pit bill terrier

    Along with the pit bull, three other traditional fighting breeds were - and remain - banned: the Japanese Tosa (pictured), the dogo Argentino and the fila Brasileiro

    A dogo Argentino is seen running through a field. The dog was banned because of the breed's use in fighting

    The fila Brasileiro, which hails from Brazil, was the other breed to be banned in 1991

    Prime Minister John Major with Rukhsana Khan, left, who suffered horrific injuries after an attack by a pit bull terrier, and Abigail Cole, who lost her hand following a medical mistake

    The Daily Mail's report described how dog 'ripped open the youngster's chest, repeatedly smashed her face on to the pavement and shook her from side to side'.

    She needed oxygen and emergency surgery as she fought to breathe. The dog also broke four of her ribs, two teeth and inflicted numerous other superficial injuries. 

    Her aunt told the Mail: 'The dog's teeth went into her and it was hitting her against the floor. 

    'It wouldn't let go. It was biting her on the body and the face and ripping her clothes to shreds. 

    The Daily Mail's reports about the attack on Rukhsana Khan and how it prompted calls for the Government to act

    Mr Tempest had to be rushed to hospital, where surgeons began treating his injuries. He needed extensive rounds of surgery to rebuild his nose and treat other parts of his face

    'The dog then threw her about in his mouth, smashing her face against the footpath. In the end you couldn't recognise it was her. 

    'We were all screaming and hitting it but there was nothing we could do. My niece was like a rag doll to that dog. It was evil.' 

    The nightmare concluded when Rukhsana's uncle prised open the dog's jaw as men beat it with sticks and bricks. 

    He too was bitten on the arms in the process of rescuing his niece.

    Speaking in a 2006 interview when she was 21, Rukhsana said: 'I still have nightmares about the attack and I am still terrified of dogs to this day. 

    'When I see a dog I freeze I don't think that will ever change.' 

    Mr Tempest was walking home from his job in a bakery when he was attacked by two pit bulls which had escaped from their back yard.

    Surgeons were initially reluctant to show the images of his injuries to the public, but Mr Tempest was insistent.

    The attack on Mr Tempest contributed to the decision to pass the Dangerous Dogs Act. 

    Speaking to the Mail five weeks after the attack, he said: 'They turned round and came for me. They started to jump up, and grabbed me.

    'I was trying to save my eyes. The dogs dragged me to the ground. I was surprised how strong they were. The attack must have lasted 30 minutes.

    'I was on the ground shouting: "Would somebody please help me."'

    'There came a stage when I was too weak to fight back. I just wanted to give up.' 

    Mr Tempest had to be rushed to hospital, where surgeons began treating his injuries. He needed extensive rounds of surgery to rebuild his nose and treat other parts of his face. 

    Rukhsana was attacked as she crossed a playground with her sister, four cousins and two aunts

    Home Secretary Kenneth Baker was in post when the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed

    At the time the Dangerous Dogs Act was passed, figures showed how one in nine pit bulls were involved in attacks and related incidents each year. 

    The figures for rottweilers and alsatians was one in 200 and one in 300 respectively. 

    The pit bull had then been involved in 185 'dangerous dog incidents'.

    Dogs that failed to be registered could be seized and destroyed. Owners risked fines of up to £2,000.

    But, the day before the registration deadline, only 2,700 of the estimated 10,000 owners had complied.

    Just a day before the fatal attack in Stonnall, a 10-year-old boy was attacked outside his house as he played football in the street. The incident left the youngster with horrific arm wounds

    Mohammed Sami Razi was left yelling for help as the dog clamped its jaws around his forearm, eventually leaving him with injuries to his arms, legs and neck

    In defying the rules, the owners risked fines of up to £2,000 and six months in prison.  

    As well as being neutered and fitted with a microchip, pit bulls and the other banned breeds had to be fitted with muzzles when taken out for walks.

    Owners also had to take out third-party insurance. 

    The Japanese Tosa - far less common in the UK than the pit bull - originated in the 19th century and was specifically bred for fighting and other blood sports.

    Japanese rules dictated that dogs were not allowed to make any noise when fighting, and the Tosa is said to have been able to do so silently.

    Meanwhile, the dogo Argentino and the fila Brasileiro - both from South America - were unheard of in the UK, but were banned because of their muscular traits and propensity to be used in fighting. 

    Sources


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