Attack spurs British ban on pit bull terrier imports

May 22, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,London Bureau of The Sun

LONDON -- Britain banned the import of American pit bull terriers effective today following a vicious attack on a 6-year-old girl.

Prime Minister John Major, announcing the ban in the House of Commons, said, "It is clear such dogs have no place in our homes."

The government also is considering urgent legislation ordering the humane destruction of all potential killer dogs in the country. The law could be introduced by the summer.

Public outrage erupted over the weekend when 6-year-old Rucksana Khan was mauled by a pit bull terrier. Passers-by were unable to force the dog to release the little girl until she had suffered broken ribs, a lacerated lung, a broken nose, two teeth knocked out and multiple bruises and bites.

It was the latest in a series of vicious attacks by fighting dogs, half of them committed by American pit bull terriers.

Labor leader Neil Kinnock, whose party had demanded an immediate ban on the import of fighting dogs, announced his "strong support" for the government move, which will also ban Japanese tosas.

Labor's home affairs spokesman, Roy Hattersley, will demand in Parliament today introduction of a dog-registration program. The government previously considered such a program unworkable.

"It will help to control the savage dogs, and it will help to protect dogs which are now bought casually and thrown away in callous absent-mindedness," Mr. Hattersley said.

Home Secretary Kenneth Baker, who met officials from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Kennel Club yesterday, will introduce legislation today tightening dog-control regulations.

Among the steps expected to be introduced:

* Mandatory muzzling of fighting dogs in public.

* More easily enforced laws punishing owners whose dogs are a nuisance or a danger.

* Higher fines for infringements.

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