Mother of Rotherham dog attack victim warned her of dangers

Rocco dog and Joanne Robinson
Rocco the American bully XL mauled Joanne Robinson to death. Credit: Family handout

The mother of a woman killed by a dog says she warned her daughter she could be in danger weeks before she was mauled to death.

Joanne Robinson, 43, died after being attacked by one of her two American bully XL dogs at her home in West Melton, Rotherham, in July. Her partner, Jamie Stead, suffered serious injuries in the incident. The two dogs were later destroyed.

Ms Robinson's mother, Dot, is now calling for tougher laws on dog ownership following nine fatal attacks across the country this year.

The 67-year-old said her daughter and Mr Stead bought the dogs – called Rocco and Lola – after being told they were "gentle giants".

But she said: "Lola kept going for Rocco so in the end they had to split them up – they lived in different rooms.

"Rocco was bigger than a lion – he was massive, absolutely massive, and I told her 'you have to get rid of one of them' but she said 'I'm not giving up on them mam'. She was a dog lover.

"It's awful, I will never get over it. I just wish a few months back she would have sat and listened to me when I told her to get rid of one. I just hope it doesn't happen to nobody else because it was awful."

Dot said Rocco, who weighed 14 stone, may have become aggressive because it was exceptionally hot on the night her daughter, a mother of two, died.

"I trusted Rocco and for this to happen – does it just take a hot day to send them off their trolley?" she said.

"That's the only thing I can think. Was it too hot for him? Because he wasn't aggressive like that and all of a sudden he's just changed. It could happen to anyone couldn't it?"

Flowers at the scene of the attack. Credit: MEN Media

Dot Robinson spoke out after the death of 65-year-old Ann Dunn in a dog attack in Liverpool this week. Five American bulldogs were destroyed following the incident.

Dot said American bully XLs, which are not banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, should be licensed.

"Since dog licences have gone you can't prove whose dog is whose," she said. "There has been a lot of goings on with these dogs. Anybody, especially with kids, I wouldn't have big dogs."

The RSPCA said it wants to see a change in the law to reduce the focus on particular breeds.

Samantha Gaines, of the charity, said: "We very strongly oppose any widening that prohibited list of dogs, because that breed-specific approach to protecting public safety is ineffective and fundamentally flawed.

"We want to see the government reform the Dangerous Dogs Act. We want to see breed-neutral legislation that is focused on early intervention and preventative measures, coupled with interventions, such as education."

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Dog attacks can have horrific consequences which is why it is a criminal offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act to allow any dog to be dangerously out of control. Owners should ensure that children are not left alone with their dogs.

"Following research into measures to reduce dog attacks, we have set up a Responsible Dog Ownership project with the police, local authority representatives and animal welfare stakeholders to look at dog control issues."

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