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Dogs that Killed Grandmother While She Visited Grandson Were XL Bullies, Banned in England

A 39-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident, police have said

<p>Essex Police/Facebook</p> Esther Martin

Essex Police/Facebook

Esther Martin

Police have confirmed that the two dogs that killed a grandmother in the U.K. while she was visiting her grandson were XL Bullies, a breed that was banned in England and Wales in December 2023.

Esther Martin, 68, was killed on Saturday by the dogs, who were kept in the home where she was visiting her grandson, in Jaywick, England, Essex Police said in a statement.

A 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous dog offenses and released on bail until March, according to police.

"I know there has been a huge amount of speculation about the breed and type of dog involved here, but it was really important we got that information right and established the facts," said Chief Superintendent Stuart Weaver in a statement.

He added, "XL Bully is not a breed of dog in itself, but a sub-category of the American bully," or what's colloquially known as a Pit Bull.

Essex Police said that they did postmortem examinations on the dogs and consulted an expert who examined their features and determined that the dogs were XL Bullies.

As previously reported, Chief Superintendent Glen Pavelin told the media on Sunday that “both dogs were destroyed inside the house" after the attack.

Esther's daughter Sonia Martin previously alleged to the BBC that her mother was told by the dogs' owner to "put a broom in among them, to distract them" when the dogs began fighting.

"That's when she was attacked," said Sonia.

Esther's relationship to the homeowners was described as "familial" by police.

When the attack began, Sonia told the BBC that her 11-year-old nephew "ran out of the house screaming for help," attracting the attention of some neighbors, who tried to "fight off" the dogs with spades.

Sonia also said she believed the dogs were kept in poor conditions, "penned in a small chalet."

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In England, the XL Bully is the largest breed of American bully dogs. As previously reported by CNN, in December 2023, it was added to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991. It's now against the law to breed, sell, abandon, give away, or knowingly let an XL Bully stray in England and Wales without a certificate of exemption.

Previously registered dogs also can't be in public without a leash or muzzle.

Per a report by the BBC, male XL Bullies stand about 20 inches at the shoulder, with females slightly smaller.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ushered in the ban on the breed after a series of attacks last year, calling the dogs a “danger to our communities," the Associated Press reports. But many animal welfare advocates believe the breed is unfairly maligned, and say it wouldn't be dangerous if not for irresponsible breeding and care, The Guardian reports.

There are no official statistics on dog attacks by breed in the country, but according to police data collected by the BBC, dog attacks in England and Wales have increased by 34% over the past five years.

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