Owner of puppy killed by suspected American XL bullies calls for Northern Ireland ban

You may find the details in this report distressing.

The owner of a puppy that was mauled to death by two suspected American XL Bully dogs has called for a ban of the breed in Northern Ireland.

Bruno, a one-year-old Shih Tzu, was attacked as he was taken on a daily walk through Lurgan on a Friday afternoon (29 September).

Despite being rushed to a local vet, he died from shock and hypothermia a short time after the incident.

The XL Bully has made headlines recently following a spate of attacks. A man in the West Midlands died after suffering serious injuries.

Bruno's owner Sarah McKerr gave an exclusive broadcast interview to UTV, recalling the traumatic experience in the hope it will protect other dogs and their owners from suffering the same fate.

"He was my purpose for getting up in the morning, he just brought so much joy, so much love," she said.

"Everybody that seen [sic] him stopped us and they just wanted to pet him.

"I've videos of him even going round the lakes. He would've thrown his arms around other dogs, he loved other dogs."

Sarah was walking her usual route with Bruno when she spotted the two large dogs from a distance. She knew immediately that they had spotted Bruno.

"I think I froze at the time," she said.

"They started running towards me and Bruno and I picked him up and raised him as high as I could and they were jumping up.

"They grabbed him out of my arms and just dragged him... I just felt so helpless. They were two massive dogs. They bit me on my hand and they pushed me to the ground.

"They just dragged him away and just mauled him in front of me. I felt powerless, I couldn't do anything."

Last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that there will be ban put on the breed in England by the end of the year.

The ban will fall under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

It will be up to other devolved UK countries to decide whether to follow suit.

Wales' Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths welcomed the announcement. Scottish ministers are yet to decide whether they will follow suit.

With no ban expected in Northern Ireland in the near future, it has left Sarah fearing that another attack could happen.

"It scares me, the fact that school children were walking home. That could have been a child, unfortunately it was my baby, but it could've been a child.

"I'm lucky I've only got away with this [bite]. It could've been a lot worse."

Critics of the clampdown on the bully breed however, say blame should be put on dog owners and not the animals.

One leading animal charity here wants to see better enforcement and an update to Northern Ireland's own laws.

"It does come down to responsible ownership," the USPCA's Siobhan McHaffie told UTV.

"The last ban that was put in place more than 30 years ago hasn't worked. Dog attacks have increased since then.

"It's hard to define the breed of dog as well, so you can't just point at a dog and say that's a banned dog and that isn't."

The Prime Minister has said experts are looking at how to define the American XL Bully dog before the ban is introduced in England.

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council says its dog warden is investigating the attack on Bruno and that there are increased patrols in the Lurgan area.

For now, Sarah can take comfort in the happier memories of a puppy who in a short space of time brought so much joy.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.