XL Bully dog which mauled mother-of-two, 43, to death ‘turned mad in the heat’

A mother-of-two was mauled to death by her pet American Bully XL dog after it ‘turned mad in the extreme heat’.

Joanne Robinson, 43, died at the scene of the attack at a house in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, on Friday night. 

She is understood to have been the owner of the animal, called Rocco, which is on the legal dog breeds list and attacked her at around 10pm. 

Her partner, Jamie Stead, 42, was left with injuries to his hands, stomach and face as he tried to saved her and pull the animal off her.

Joanne’s mother, Dotty Robinson, said the family are in ‘disbelief and shock’ over her death and believed the weather may have affected the animals.

She said Joanne had two XL Bully dogs – Rocco who was nearly two, and Lola.

She said the pets were well behaved and ‘not dangerous’, but added: ‘I don’t know why they suddenly snapped. I can only think they turned mad in the extreme heat. It must have set them off.

Joanne Robinson (pictured) is believed to be the third victim of a legal breed which has killed two tots

Joanne Robinson (pictured) is believed to be the third victim of a legal breed which has killed two tots

A man also suffered life-changing injuries after the dog attack, police have said. Pictured: South Yorkshire Police officers were on scene on Saturday morning

A man also suffered life-changing injuries after the dog attack, police have said. Pictured: South Yorkshire Police officers were on scene on Saturday morning

Joanne is understood to have been the owner of the animal, called Rocco (pictured), which is on the legal dog breeds list and attacked her at around 10pm

Joanne is understood to have been the owner of the animal, called Rocco (pictured), which is on the legal dog breeds list and attacked her at around 10pm 

Joanne Robinson (pictured), 43, was killed by her American Bully XL dog at her home in Rotherham on Friday night

Joanne Robinson (pictured), 43, was killed by her American Bully XL dog at her home in Rotherham on Friday night

Dozens of flowers have already been laid at the scene of the attack

Dozens of flowers have already been laid at the scene of the attack

Bouquets were left outside the house with messages such as 'We love you!' showing the outpouring of grief for Joanne

Bouquets were left outside the house with messages such as ‘We love you!’ showing the outpouring of grief for Joanne

Photos from the scene show the woman appeared to be locally known and loved, which was confirmed by her family

Photos from the scene show the woman appeared to be locally known and loved, which was confirmed by her family

‘Rocco’s a big dog, he’s bigger than a lion. He was like a small horse.’

She told The Sun that Rocco and Lola, have been destroyed. 

Dotty added of Jamie: ‘He’s hoping to come home from hospital today but he is still in much pain.

Floral tributes have been placed on metal railings outside the house while neighbours have spoken of their shock and horror

Floral tributes have been placed on metal railings outside the house while neighbours have spoken of their shock and horror

The gate at the property had a 'Beware of the dogs' sign that continued: 'They bite you have been warned'

The gate at the property had a ‘Beware of the dogs’ sign that continued: ‘They bite you have been warned’

The police took away two dogs. One man, who said he was the couple's son, said, 'I can assure you that the dogs were treated well'. Pictured: A floral tribute and card left for Joanne on Sunday

The police took away two dogs. One man, who said he was the couple’s son, said, ‘I can assure you that the dogs were treated well’. Pictured: A floral tribute and card left for Joanne on Sunday

Dangerous dog legislation in the UK

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991?

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans or restricts certain types of dogs and makes it an offence to allow a dog of any breed to be dangerously out of control.

It was introduced 30 years ago by Home Secretary Kenneth Baker ‘to rid the country of the menace of these fighting dogs’ after a string of attacks.

Which dogs are banned in the UK?

It is illegal to own four breeds of dogs without an exemption from a court. They are:

  • American pitbull terriers;
  • Japanese tosas
  • Dogo Argentinos;
  • Fila Brazileiro  

The law also criminalises cross-breeds of the above four types of dog – meaning that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited ‘type’.

What happens if there’s a dog attack?

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months if your dog is dangerously out of control. 

You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined. If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’.

And if you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine. 

Why has the Act been criticised? 

Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Veterinary Association have protested against the ban, insisting there is no scientific evidence that all individuals of a breed are dangerous.

However, Met Police data suggests that in incidents involving ‘dangerously out of control dogs’, banned breeds account for about a fifth of offences.

‘He knows Joanna has gone and is absolutely devastated as we all are. We will miss her so much.

‘He’s had a horrible ordeal.

He’s lost his partner of twenty years and his dogs.’

Floral tributes have been placed on metal railings outside the house while neighbours have spoken of their shock and horror.

One heart-breaking message read: ‘To our beautiful angel up above. You will never be forgotten. Love you always.’

Neighbour John Allerton, 69, a retired miner, said: ‘It’s really really tragic.’

Another friend said: ‘I’m devastated. She was a lovely lady. They are a lovely family.’

The police took away two dogs. One man, who said he was the couple’s son, said, ‘I can assure you that the dogs were treated well.’

There have been numerous incidents involving Bully XL dogs, with police confirming in march that Bella-Rae Birch, a 17-month-old girl, was killed by one in her own home. 

Police said the toddler was attacked at her family’s home in St Helens, Merseryside, a week after they bought the dog.  

It was also reported that a Bully XL mauled Welsh schoolboy Jack Lis to death in a savage attack last year.

Floral tributes have been left to the mother, with neighbours describing her as a ‘lovely lady’. 

Cards and flowers have gathered outside the home where the couple lived, including a note from her children Elle, 24 and Dillon, 19, which read: ‘Mum I love and miss you.’  

South Yorkshire Police says two dogs have been seized and removed from the property, and neither of these are on the banned breeds list. 

The force said neither are considered ‘banned breeds’ under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. 

A statement from the force said: ‘We were called to a property on Masefield Road in West Melton at about 10.15pm last night by a member of the public stating a dog had attacked himself and a woman.

‘Officers attended with a Yorkshire Ambulance [Service] crew and found a man, aged 42, with a potentially life-altering injury to one hand, plus injuries to his other hand, abdomen and face. He was transported to hospital for further treatment.

‘The woman, aged 43, had been fatally bitten and despite the best efforts of emergency crews was sadly pronounced deceased at the scene.

South Yorkshire Police forensic officers at the scene of a fatal dog attack in Rotherham

South Yorkshire Police forensic officers at the scene of a fatal dog attack in Rotherham

Third death involving Bully XL dog breed 

Ms Robinson’s death on Thursday was the third involving a Bully XL dog in the space of two years. 

In March this year Bella-Rae Birch, a 17-month-old girl, was killed by a dog of the same breed. 

The toddler had been attacked in her family’s home in St Helens, Merseyside, just a week after they bought the animal. 

Last year Welsh schoolboy Jack Lis was also killed in a savage attack by a Bully XL. 

The 10-year-old boy was playing at a friend’s house in Caerphilly in November last year when he was set upon by the dog.

The animal, which was called ‘Beast’, had been bought by its owner less than a week before the attack.

‘The dog, plus another dog at the property, were secured by specially trained officers.

‘Neither dog was of a banned breed.’

According to the UK Bully Kennel Club website, the American Bully XL is a large breed, with males standing between 51cm and above. 

The Club says: ‘In spite of its considerable size, the XL is highly prized for not only its impressive stature, but also its gentle personality and loving nature.

‘It is a recent breed, dating back to the 1980’s, and is regarded the distinctive build and height combined with a compassionate nature mean its popularity continues to grow.’

RSPCA is linking the the increase in Britons buying puppies during Covid to a surge in fatal dog attacks.

Reports from the Dog and Cat Behaviour Association show dog attacks increased by 54 per cent between 2020 and 2021.

It is illegal to own four breeds of dogs without an exemption from a court.

They are American pitbull terriers, Japanese tosas, Dog Argentinos and Fila Brazileiro.

The law also criminalises cross-breeds of the above four types of dog – meaning that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited ‘type’.

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