Police are searching for the owner of a suspected XL bully dog which attacked several young children in a park in south west London.
The victims, including a one-year-old, were left with “minor injuries” after being set upon by the unmuzzled pet in Latchmere Recreation Ground, Battersea, on Friday. XL bullys are currently restricted and are required to be muzzled and on a lead.
A 34-year-old mum, who spoke anonymously, said her two children were attacked and are "lucky to be alive". She told Express.co.uk: "Before I knew it, the dog had pushed the metal gate open and jumped on my toddler who was on the floor being bitten. I don’t know how I managed to pick him up but I did and kicked the dog off. I grabbed the pram with the other hand but as I did, the dog launched at the pram which made it overturn."
She said she was shouting for help as the owner tried to wrestle the "huge dog". Someone from a house then called police, who arrived “within minutes”. Officers confirmed they were looking for the animal and its owner after they left quickly following the attack.
The Met Police are appealing for the public's help to find the dog and its owner. The owner is believed to be a black man aged 25-35 years. He was wearing a black tracksuit, a black Canada goose jacket with a white fur hood and black Nike trainers. The dog was grey with tan features.
Sergeant Steve Hales, of the Metropolitan Police's South West Safer Neighbourhoods Team, added: "We were called at around 11.30hrs on Friday, 2 February, by a member of the public who said they had seen a dog, believed to be an XL bully, attack some children in Latchmere Recreation Ground, Burns Road, SW11.
"We attended the scene within a few minutes and found the children, who were all safe but had received some minor injuries. The dog, who was not on the lead and was not wearing a muzzle at the time of the attack, had already left the park with its owner. We understand this will be very worrying for local residents but I would like to reassure you that we are working hard to locate the dog and its owner."
It comes after 68-year-old grandmother Esther Martin was found dead at a house on Hillman Avenue in Jaywick, Essex, on Saturday afternoon, after a suspected XL bully attack. She was attacked after travelling to see her grandson from her home in Woodford Green, London.
More funding needed to enforce ban
London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for more funding for police to cover the cost of enforcing the new XL bully dogs ban. He has written to London minister Greg Hands to raise concerns over the issue of police funding in the capital.
Khan said: “The actions of dangerous dogs such as the XL bully can devastate families and we’ve seen some appalling cases in recent weeks. It is absolutely right that the law has changed meaning it is now illegal to own one of these animals, and owners are fined and prosecuted.
“The Met are rightly devoting a lot of resources to tackling dangerous dogs, including attending callouts and putting any illegally owned dogs into kennels. We now need ministers to step up and cover the cost of this work, which will now cost the Met £4m a year, as well as the huge £240m shortfall facing the service for its unique capital city and national policing responsibilities.”
From 1 February, it became a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without an exemption certificate. Under new restrictions, unregistered pets can be taken and owners possibly fined and prosecuted, with seized dogs taken to kennels before a court decides if they should either be destroyed or deemed not a danger to public safety.