Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at east London home

Scene on Cornwall Close
Forensic work continues to take place [BBC]

A woman in her 50s has died after she was attacked by her two registered XL bullies at a house in east London.

The woman was treated by paramedics at the home in Cornwall Close, Hornchurch, but died at the scene on Monday afternoon.

The two dogs were seized by armed officers after being contained in a room.

It is believed to be the first fatal attack by XL bully dogs that were known to have been registered under new laws.

A blue forensic tent was put up outside the woman's home in the small residential street following the attack.

Forensic team walking out of house with bags
Officers can be seen working at the property [BBC]

Officers and forensic teams can be seen removing items from the property.

The family of the woman, who was the owner of the dogs, is being supported by officers, the Metropolitan Police says.

Neighbours have described seeing paramedics administer CPR to the victim in her front garden.

XL bully dog
XL bully dogs are now banned in England and Wales unless owners have an exemption certificate [Reuters]

A woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: "I came out of the house and looked to see what had happened. We hadn't heard anything but saw a helicopter overhead and loads of police.

"I stood by the road and saw a paramedic administering CPR. That poor woman. It's shocking."

Scene on Cornwall Close
Two XL bully dogs were seized by armed officers at the home [BBC]

Another woman, who also did not want to be named, said she heard barking during the incident and had previously warned her child about going near the XL bully dogs.

'A lot of barking'

"I said 'don't ever touch those dogs. They're dangerous'.

"I didn't see anything but I heard a lot of of barking and saw a lot of people outside," she said.

One neighbour said he did not hear the incident but saw the police helicopter followed by up to three ambulances and about nine police cars arriving at the scene.

He said: "I looked out and saw two or three ambulances and eight or nine police cars. We asked police what had happened, they said there'd been 'an unfortunate incident'.

"At around 4.15pm we were told to evacuate. We were out for around half an hour while police blocked off the road."

Michaela Scott
Local dog trainer Michaela Scott, who specialises in working with XL bully dogs, said there were "quite a lot" of people in the area with XL bullies [BBC]

Julia Lopez, the MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, told BBC Radio London: "I think the whole community is in shock at this incident."

"To find out it was as a result of her two dogs was deeply distressing and I obviously think of her family and her neighbours who will have been deeply affected by this," she said.

From 1 February, it became an offence in England and Wales to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate.

Anyone who owns one of the dogs must have the animal neutered and microchipped, and keep it muzzled and on a lead in public, among other restrictions.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 16 deaths due to dog attacks in 2023, a sharp rise from preceding years where the number had been in single figures.

As of late 2023, around 60% of dogs held in police kennels were a bull breed of some kind.

Ms Lopez added that while incidents like this would "provoke a new debate" on the rules surrounding XL bully ownership, it was her understanding the "lady affected had those dogs under the new licences that requires the dogs to be neutered, to be chipped, to be muzzled".

"So she was complying with the law."

Scene on Cornwall Close
Items have been removed from the home [BBC]

Dog behaviourist Michaela Scott, who lives near the house where the woman died in Hornchurch, said attacks like this could be scary for people who did not work with this breed.

"It's really sad for the person, the neighbours, for the local community," she said.

Ms Scott, who specialises in working with XL bully dogs, said there were "quite a lot" of people in the area with the breed.

She said there had been a rise in demand from owners for her training program to help their dogs adapt to the new rules.

"Owners want to do what's right for their dog," she said. "They want to know how to keep their dog safe as well as everyone else safe."

Incident Room: XL Bully Ban, What Next?

BBC reporter Jordan Davies asks experts why the ban on the American XL bully dog is controversial and what impact it is likely to have.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer (UK Only)

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