DANGEROUS dogs have created ‘no go’ zones for residents in an area branded the worst in Britain for XL Bullys.
Residents in Rawmarsh, Rotherham, say they are living under siege from the killer dogs which prowl the streets off leads.
Locals have even hacked up their garden hedges to keep an eye on the brutes and one pensioner told how she suffered a nasty head injury after her pet was set upon by a bully-type dog.
This week The Sun reported how six-year-old Rotherham resident Deborah Dzvene had half her face torn to shreds by her brother’s pet dog, which had traces of banned breed pitbull.
Deborah has been left with a patchwork of scars across her face after the savage attack, which saw her dad Crispen bravely prise the beast’s jaws apart to free his blood-soaked daughter.
In Rotherham there has been a 178 per cent increase in the number of dogs seized in the past year, with 89 taken by cops in 2022 – a rise from 32 in 2021.
Residents in Rawmarsh are living in fear of running into the savage animals – thanks to owners who can’t keep them under control.
One man told The Sun: “This estate has got to be the worst in Britain for these dogs. It’s out of control.”
Grandma Nora Hutchinson, 85, broke down in tears as she recalls how two dogs causing havoc in the area savaged her 12-year-old black Labrador, Lucky, just last month.
She fell over when her dog ran off, cutting the back of her head.
She said: “I was terrified for Lucky. These dogs just darted over and attacked her, biting into her.
“I was so scared for her, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
“Thankfully she ran off home and was safe.
“Lucky has been there for me and is my everything after my husband, Michael, died two years ago of a heart attack at 71, and I couldn’t cope without her.
“If she would have been killed, it would have killed me too.”
“Lucky really was lucky in the end because her fur is so thick that they only ripped away her fur and didn’t get to the skin. The vet gave her antibiotics and a sedative.”
Nora said the dogs are housed in an upstairs flat and terrorise the estate.
Five minutes away in neighbouring Wath upon Dearne, Dot Robinson, 68, told how she was left devastated when daughter Joanne, 43, was killed in a bully-type dog attack.
Joanne was killed by her own 14-stone beast Rocco when she tried to separate it from fighting with her second dog in July last year.
Dot has welcomed new laws to force owners to register their animals, but it’s sadly too late for her daughter.
She said: “If this law was in place before, I don’t think Joanne would have never got this dog and she would still be alive today.
“She liked the breed, it was like they were in fashion at the time, but she did not know what she was letting herself in for.
“If the laws were in place Joanne would have never got an XL Bully and she would still be alive today.”
Dot says: “Even her love for that dog did not help her. I had been telling her she needed to get rid of one of the two dogs because they were too dangerous but she wouldn’t listen.
“She couldn’t give one of them up.”
Rocco, bought for £4,000 from an XL bully breeder, turned out to be a mix of dogs which included a Bullmastiff and cane corso.
Dot said: “It’s like they were putting all these dogs together to create a super-breed.
“Rocco was 14 stone and as big as a lion, way bigger than an XL Bully.
“The breeders do not care what dog they have and who they give it to, as long as they’re getting their money.
“You see young lads with these dogs, wearing their chains and thinking they’re bad men. These are not the right owners for these dogs.
“Joanne’s dogs were a ticking timebomb. Just two weeks before she died I told her that either she or Jamie would end up badly hurt or dead, and then the unthinkable happened.
“Each day is a nightmare for me now. I miss her so much. We all do.”
Joanne’s friend Tracy Berry, 52, owns an XL Bully called Star after Joanne bought her for her as a gift, with the idea of possibly breeding them themselves.
She says: “We soon realised that breeding them was not the responsible thing to do and we just loved our animals as pets.
“I am a responsible owner and I will make sure to do everything to comply with the law when it comes in. I can’t give her up, she means too much to me.”
Dot says she’s petrified to see an increase in the number of owners walking Bullies on the field outside her home, with so many people not aware of how dangerous these dogs really are.
At the time she feared so much for her own greyhound cross that she chopped down her garden hedge to make sure she could keep an eye on the dogs in the field.
In Rawmarsh residents claim there’s such a clamour for XL’s that thieves are targeting pet owners – marking outside gates with chalk to alert burglars where dogs live.
One woman wrote on FB: “There’s chalk marks outside houses with valuable dogs.
“It’s obvious houses are being marked up so the animals can be nicked.”
One man, who did not wish to be named, told how there had been reports of one of the dogs roaming the streets on its own like a wolf just a couple of days ago.
Mum-of-two Celine Raynow, 26, says she doesn’t have a problem with XL bullies because she grew up with one at home.
She said: “We had one before they became fashionable. We took in a rescue and had him for a good six years until he died around four years ago. He was the gentlest of dogs. They are very good natured and are lovely in the right hands. Sadly the wrong owners are attracted to them.
“I feel sorry for the dogs because none of this is their fault.”
But retired Shirley Briggs, 71, now walks in another direction when she walks her sister’s greyhound dog, Tilly, because the XL bullies have created no-go zones for local dogs.
She said: “The owners have two dogs and they walk with them without leads. We had a run-in once with Tilly when they ran across the road to get to her.
“I managed to stand in front of Tilly to stop anything from happening, and then the owners did manage to shout them back, but it has scared me so much that I’m walking elsewhere.
“They have no control, or care to control their dogs, whatsoever, and I can’t trust that they will know what to do if they attack.
“The real worry, for me, is that there is a primary school nearby and that could be a child that could get hurt. They are taking no precaution to keep their vicious dogs under control. These dogs should have muzzles and leads.”
Bully dogs have been responsible for 12 out of 23 fatal attacks in the last three years, including that of 10-year-old Jack Lis in November 2021.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made it illegal from December 31 to breed, sell, advertise, rehome or abandon an American Bully XL.
From February next year, owners who want to keep their dogs will have to register it.
Lisa Park, a 51-year-old trustee of Rotherham Dog Rescue, is concerned the ban will create an influx of dogs that will need to be put down, which will be terrible for the mental health of rescue workers and vets.
She said: “I believe the problem here is with breeders who breed these dogs with no care for who they’re housing these dogs with. They will just hand the over to anybody who pays without consideration of the home life of buyers.
“You get dogs like XL bullies going into family homes with owners having no idea what they are taking on. These are big dogs that require a lot of training.
“You will often hear of owners saying their dogs are too strong and that they cannot handle them but you are supposed to be able to take your dog for a walk on a lead without it pulling. Training is required to make sure a dog is walked properly.
“Dogs such as these should be outside on a lead and with a muzzle.
“When the ban comes in it will be devastating for the responsible owners who care for their pets.”
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “As reflected nationally, we have seen an increase in dog attacks.
“Preventing an attack from happening is a priority and we are working hard to ensure communities report dogs of concern to us.
“This enables us to work alongside the owner where possible and safeguard any vulnerable people living in the property.”