Brother pays tribute to dog walker, 34, mauled to death by 'XL Bully' as man, 20, is arrested

1 month ago 17

The brother of a dog walker who was mauled to death by an 'XL Bully' after he 'collapsed' in a park has paid tribute after a 20-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident.

Ian 'Wiggy' Symes, 34, was walking a customer’s dog at a recreation ground in Fareham, Hampshire, when he was attacked on Hilson Drive this Wednesday. Locals claimed that Mr Symes may have collapsed and had a seizure before the dog he was with ‘ate’ part of his face.

Although paramedics rushed to the scene in Fareham, Hampshire, Mr Symes was pronounced dead not long after.

Police arrested the 20-year-old owner of the dog – which locals claim might have been an XL Bully – for being in charge of an animal ‘dangerously out of control’. A spokesman added that the man has now been released without charge ‘but remains under investigation’.

MailOnline understands that initial enquiries suggest the dog is an XL Bully, which is not an illegal breed.

Ian's brother Martin Symes, a father-of-two, has since visited the park where flowers and messages were laid, and in a touching tribute, he said: 'The past 30 hours have been pretty shocking and very hard to really understand what happened and why.

Ian 'Wiggy' Symes, 34, was walking a customer’s dog at a recreation ground in Fareham, Hampshire, when he was attacked on Wednesday. Locals claimed that Mr Symes may have collapsed and had a seizure before the dog he was with ‘ate’ part of his face

Although paramedics rushed to the scene in Fareham, Hampshire, Mr Symes (pictured) was pronounced dead not long after. Police arrested the 20-year-old owner of the dog – which locals claim might have been an XL Bully – for being in charge of an animal ‘dangerously out of control’

'Thanks for all the messages and tributes for my brother. It’s very touching to see the flowers and messages left on the field.

'Crazy to think of all the memories I had playing football on that field and the laughs I had in the school just got wiped from the situation that happened.

'The facts are he was out walking a dog something he loved to do and as sad as it is least he passed away doing something he loved.'

To finish, Martin wrote to his late brother: 'I’m not overly religious but I do believe you go to a better place, and no doubt he’ll be up there already walking his dogs. Rest in peace brother.' 

Last month, Joanne Robinson, 43, was mauled to death by an American Bully dog after it ‘turned mad in the extreme heat’ in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The other six victims of dog maulings this year include three toddlers and a three-month-old baby.

The 34-year-old man died after being mauled by a dog on Hillson Drive, Fareham in Hampshire (located in picture) on Wednesday

Third death involving Bully XL dog breed 

In March this year Bella-Rae Birch, a 17-month-old girl, was killed by an XL Bully dog. The toddler had been attacked in her family's home in St Helens, Merseyside, just a week after they bought the animal. 

Also this year, Joanne Robinson was mauled to death by her pet American Bully XL dog after it 'turned mad in the extreme heat'. The 43-year-old died at the scene of the attack at a house in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. 

Last year Welsh schoolboy Jack Lis was also killed in a savage attack by a Bully XL. The 10-year-old boy was playing at a friend's house in Caerphilly in November last year when he was set upon by the dog.

Photographs of Mr Symes, who is from Fareham, show him smiling as he poses next to pet Rottweilers on social media. 

A mother who lives near the recreation ground said those who were first on the scene found Mr Symes had suffered horrific facial injuries.

The woman, who was in the park to do some photography with her young daughter at the time, said: 'We were in the park before the police arrived. 

Dangerous dog legislation in the UK

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991?

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans or restricts certain types of dogs and makes it an offence to allow a dog of any breed to be dangerously out of control.

It was introduced 30 years ago by Home Secretary Kenneth Baker 'to rid the country of the menace of these fighting dogs' after a string of attacks.

Which dogs are banned in the UK?

It is illegal to own four breeds of dogs without an exemption from a court. They are:

  • American pitbull terriers;
  • Japanese tosas
  • Dogo Argentinos;
  • Fila Brazileiro  

The law also criminalises cross-breeds of the above four types of dog - meaning that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited 'type'.

What happens if there's a dog attack?

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months if your dog is dangerously out of control. 

You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined. If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with 'malicious wounding'.

And if you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine. 

Why has the Act been criticised? 

Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Veterinary Association have protested against the ban, insisting there is no scientific evidence that all individuals of a breed are dangerous.

However, Met Police data suggests that in incidents involving 'dangerously out of control dogs', banned breeds account for about a fifth of offences.

'He was a very helpful man. He used to come around and offer to do jobs like gardening. He used to walk people's dogs for them as well. It sounds like a tragic accident.'

Another resident said: 'People have said it was an XL Bully dog that attacked him, but we don't know for sure. I spoke to the police to check they had the dog, as I've got kids and they said they did.'

Another resident who lives near the park said she had been friends with 'Wiggy' since they were schoolchildren. 

The woman, who didn't want to give her name, said Mr Symes' father had come to her house to tell them the news about his son's tragic death.

She said: '[Symes'] dad came round and told us it was his son who had died. I heard he was out walking a dog, but it wasn't his dog that attacked him.

'We met on holiday on the Isle of Wight when I was around eight. It is just such a shock... He was so well liked and he was really nice to me.'

Julie, who works as a carer at a home in the area, said there were plenty of large 'fighting dogs' in the area.

'There are a lot of people who keep big dogs around here, generally what I'd call fighting-type dogs,' she said. 'We see them parading down the shops in Highlands Road, nearby.'

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: 'We are speaking to people in the area and carrying out other lines of enquiry to establish how the man died.

'As part of our enquiries a 20-year-old man from Fareham has been arrested on suspicion of being the owner/person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death.

'He has been released from custody without charge but remains under investigation while enquiries continue.'

It comes amid a spate of dog attacks across the UK, some of which have tragically lead to deaths.

Last month, mother-of-two Joanne Robinson was mauled to death by her pet American Bully XL dog after it 'turned mad in the extreme heat'. 

The 43-year-old died at the scene of the attack at a house in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

She is understood to have been the owner of the animal, called Rocco, which is on the legal dog breeds list.

A three-year-old girl also suffered life-changing injuries in Hampshire last week after being bitten by a Doberman dog.

The dog was seized by police and a 44-year-old woman was arrested in relation to the attack.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans or restricts certain types of dogs and makes it an offence to allow a dog of any breed to be dangerously out of control.

It was introduced 30 years ago by Home Secretary Kenneth Baker 'to rid the country of the menace of these fighting dogs' after a string of attacks. 

It is illegal to own four breeds of dogs without an exemption from a court. They are:

  • American pitbull terriers;
  • Japanese tosas
  • Dogo Argentinos;
  • Fila Brazileiro  

The law also criminalises cross-breeds of the above four types of dog - meaning that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited 'type'.

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months if your dog is dangerously out of control. 

You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined. If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with 'malicious wounding'.

And if you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine.

Mr Symes was pronounced dead at the scene of the horror incident in Fareham, Hampshire

Fatal dog attacks in the UK in 2022 

Seven people have so far died from dog attacks in the UK this year.  They are:

John William Jones

John William Jones, known as William, was found dead at his country cottage in Lampeter, West Wales on January 10 

John William Jones, known as William, was found dead at his country cottage in Lampeter, West Wales on January 10. Police sedated three bulldogs Milo, Tia and Abbie after arriving at the scene.

Kyra Leanne King

Three-month-old Kyra Leanne King died on March 6 at Ostler's Plantation, near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire 

Three-month-old Kyra Leanne King died on March 6 at Ostler's Plantation, near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. A 40-year-old woman and a 54-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of being in charge of an out-of-control husky.

Bella-Rae Birch 

Bella-Rae Birch was just 17 months old when an American Bully XL mauled her to death at her home in Blackbrook, St Helen's on March 21 

Bella-Rae Birch was just 17 months old when an American Bully XL mauled her to death at her home in Blackbrook, St Helen's on March 21. 

Lawson Bond

Two-year-old Lawson Bond was savaged at home in the village of Egdon, Worcestershire, on March 28. Lawson suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of his horrific injuries and died two days later on March 30.

Two-year-old Lawson Bond was savaged at home in the village of Egdon, Worcestershire, on March 28 

Daniel Twigg

Three-year-old Daniel Twigg from Rochdale was mauled to death in a dog attack on a farm on May 15 

Three-year-old Daniel Twigg from Rochdale was mauled to death in a dog attack on a farm on May 15. Daniel was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Keven Jones

Keven Jones, 62, died after being mauled by a dog at a house in Wales on Monday, May 23 

Keven Jones, 62, died after being mauled by a dog at a house in Wales on Monday, May 23. The Welsh Ambulance Service said Mr Jones was having a heart attack after being bitten by the dog, but died at the scene.

Joanne Robinson

Joanne Robinson (pictured) is believed to be the third victim of a legal breed which has killed two tots

Joanne Robinson was mauled to death by her pet American Bully XL dog after it 'turned mad in the extreme heat'. The 43-year-old died at the scene of the attack at a house in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. She is understood to have been the owner of the animal, called Rocco, which is on the legal dog breeds list.

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