Jack Lis: Mum of boy mauled to death by dog in Caerphilly calls for change in the law

Jack Lis, 10, who was mauled to death by a dog Credit: PA Media / ITV Wales

The mother of a ten-year-old boy who was mauled to death 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 a 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.

Flowers left outside the house in Pentwyn, Penyrheol, near Caerphilly where Jack Lis was killed by a dog Credit: Bronwen Weatherby/PA

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

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Jack suffered "catastrophic and unsurvivable injuries" which caused his death.

Brandon Hayden, 19, was jailed for four years and six months in June for having a dog dangerously out of control which caused injury leading to Jack's death - something which Jack's mother described as "pitiful".

Meanwhile, Amy Salter, 29, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after allowing Hayden to keep the dog at her home.

In an exclusive interview with ITV Cymru Wales in December last year, Emma Whitfield said no sentence would have brought justice, but what they have received is an "insult."

"For them to get as little as they did, that’s nowhere near close to where it should be. Jack was ten, they didn’t even receive half of that and his (Hayden), was even less because of his age. But he knew what he was doing, so how does his age help him get off?

“Everything’s okay for him he’s in prison for maybe a year and a half, two years if he’s released early. He gets to come back out and keep living his life. But mine, I don’t have one anymore."

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?

CCTV still dated 4/11/2021 of the dog Beast in Caerphilly, after it ran at a boy. Credit: Gwent Police/PA

“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.”

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.

Emma says there are no words to describe how much she misses Jack and that life will never be the same for her and her family.

“It’s horrendous. I’m in autopilot everyday. I get up, I do the same thing every single day, just because I don’t think about it. I can’t wake him up for school anymore, I can’t wash his clothes anymore and I just don’t know how I keep going.

“I see people everyday, I take my youngest to school and I know they look at me for all the wrong reasons and they’re not in the wrong or anything like that, there’s no words anybody can say, but they know who I am now and that’s hard to deal with on a daily basis.” 

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.

Wayne David wants to tackle the problem of Slapps Credit: Richard Townshend/UK Parliament/PA

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?

“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.