Shropshire Star

‘Enough is enough’ – Mother of dog attack victim calls for change in the law

Emma Whitfield is demanding action after her 10-year-old son Jack Lis was killed by an XL Bully.

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The mother of a 10-year-old boy who died after being mauled by a dog has called for a change in the law, saying “enough is enough”.

Emma Whitfield, 32, is calling for “Jack Lis Law”, named after her son who died in November 2021 in Pentwyn, Penyrheol, near Caerphilly, South Wales, after the attack by an XL Bully – a breed developed from the American pit bull terrier.

She told the Daily Mirror, which is backing the campaign for a change in the law: “I still have terrible flashbacks. I still see the animal and its teeth. I hear the barking.

“You relive it multiple times a day – it’s torture.

Tributes to Jack Lis
Flowers left outside the house in Pentwyn, Penyrheol, near Caerphilly where Jack Lis was killed by a dog (Bronwen Weatherby/PA)

“I still find it unbelievable. Sat on the sofa or on the way home, it hits you all over again.”

The dog’s owner Brandon Hayden, then 19, was sentenced in June 2022 to just over four years at a young offenders’ institution and Amy Salter, then 29, was jailed for three years after they pleaded guilty to being in charge of the out of control dog, which was named Beast.

A further 15 people have lost their lives in dog attacks in the 18 months since Jack’s death, including an 83-year-old woman in Caerphilly, while there were nearly 22,000 cases of injuries from out of control dogs in 2022.

Jack’s mother said: “Enough is enough. This has to stop.

“It’s mind-blowing how it keeps happening. It should never have happened to Jack but why has nobody learned from this?

“Innocent people are dying. The Government needs to act now. It’s out of control and there are people losing their kids because of this. I want to stop this happening.”

She said certain types of dogs have become “status symbols” and said not all breeders or owners need policing under new legislation.

“To me it is not different than having a lethal weapon,” she said.

“My problem is with backyard breeders who don’t care where the dogs go. There is no reason why a dog needs to sell for £10,000 to go into a family home.”

Pentwyn dog attack
CCTV still dated 4/11/2021 of the dog Beast outside the village shop Top Stores on Heol Aneurin, Caerphilly, after it ran at a boy who dropped his scooter (Gwent Police/PA)

She also called for tougher sentences with Salter possibly being released from prison before the end of the year.

“She only missed one Christmas when we have lost a lifetime of them,” Ms Whitfield said.

The campaign for the “Jack Lis Law” is backed by the Mirror, the Dog Control Coalition – which includes the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home – and Caerphilly’s Labour MP Wayne David.

They are calling for a different approach to dog legislation which includes all dogs and focuses on breeding, training and the sale of dogs.

Calling the problem an epidemic, Mr David said: “We have to ask who is next?

UK Parliament portraits
Wayne David, the Labour MP for Caerphilly (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament/PA)

“There can be no doubt that radical reform is needed to dog law. This will only happen when everyone who is concerned pulls together.

“I’m quoting the police when I say there is more money in selling dogs for some criminals than selling drugs. I’m determined to see this issue addressed by the Government as soon as humanly possible.”

He has previously called for the reintroduction of dog licences.

RSPCA head of companion animals Dr Samantha Gaines said: “The Dangerous Dogs Act has failed to protect the public from the risk of bites, we want a new approach.

“It is also essential measures are available to deter and punish owners of dogs whose behaviour is dangerous.”

The XL Bully is not recognised as an official breed by the UK’s Kennel Club.

Downing Street said a working group involving the police, councils and animal welfare experts is looking at ways to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible ownership.

“There have been some horrific cases and our thoughts and sympathies are with those that have been affected,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“We know dog attacks can lead to tragic consequences and that’s why we have a number of measures in place to protect people.”

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