Five police officers were hospitalized with serious injuries when a pit bull launched a relentless assault on them in east London on March 21. The attack occurred at about 9:00 a.m. as the team of Metropolitan Police Officers went to an address in Albert Square, Stratford, to arrest a suspect. Afterwards, large patches and pools of dried blood remained along a 30-foot stretch of the street.
Eyewitness Dennis Clarke said one officer “scrambled onto the hood of the car” to kick the dog away while another was left with blood pouring from his hand. BBC News video shows a trail of bloody paw prints and deep scratches on cars as the dog pursued them. Clarke said that, during the attack, the Pit Bull sunk its teeth so deeply into one of the officer's leg that he lifted the animal off the ground with its jaws still locked onto his leg. "He managed to get to the wall but the dog got over the wall and was trying to attack him again," Clarke said.
All five policemen were rushed to the Royal London Hospital after the savage attack, with what were described as “life-changing wounds as serious as those seen after a shootout.” One officer had his arm broken between the animal’s jaws, while others had chunks of flesh torn from their legs and arms. Some will require plastic surgery, and one could lose several fingers, according to police.
‘Commander Stephen Watson said the officers came under "sustained attack. “Of the five, two might be described as “walking wounded,” whereas three sustained serious injuries which will necessitate further medical intervention," he explained
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The Pit Bull was finally cornered in the street by a dozen officers who arrived from a nearby station armed with riot shields. The dog was shot and killed by a police marksman from the CO19 Specialist Firearms Command, which was called to the scene. According to the Daily Mail report, “…he blasted the dog four times with a shotgun.”
PIT BULL OWNER IS A “VIOLENT KIDNAPPER” SUSPECT
Symieon Robinson Pierre, a 25-year-old musician, who owned the dog, was held at an East London police station and appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court in London on March 23. A relative told BBC News that the dog was merely defending its property.
Robinson is also accused of being a violent kidnapper. He is facing a total of four charges at Thames Magistrates' Court, including possession of a Pit Bull, which is a violation of the Dangerous Dogs Act. Additionally, he is charged with allowing his dog to be “dangerously out of control” outside his home in Albert Square and injuring five people. Robinson is also charged with kidnapping and great bodily harm with intent (GBH) in an unrelated incident that occurred on March 14 in Newham, police said.
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Scotland Yard has admitted it failed to pick up on any prior record that the animal lived at the property. The raid which took the officers to the Neham location was part of Operation Big Wing, a major Scotland Yard purge on wanted suspects across London. The 48-hour operation involved hundreds of officers conducting searches for people wanted by police or who had failed to appear at court.
NEIGHBORS SAID DOG HAD BEEN REPORTED AS “DANGEROUS”
Neighbors said the Pit Bull had been reported several times in the past. Dennis Clarke, 72, said he had first warned Newham Council the dog, named Poison, was dangerous after it attacked another dog. He said it was responsible for other attacks, including one last year in which a builder was pulled from his bicycle and mauled so badly ‘it looked like he was being eaten alive’.
A 30-year-old pregnant woman, Rehema Nyange described the incident in detail, “The dog was running around the street. Then it got the man's leg. ‘It must have took a chunk out of it as when the paramedics came they had to cut his trousers off to get to it. It was a big wound. ‘He was crying like a baby but people were too scared to go out and help him in case the dog turned on them.”
Nyange said neighbors had repeatedly called Newham Council. But nothing was done."When I saw it in the street, I would always run away. I was scared. There are people with children on this street and there's a school close by. It could easily have attacked anybody," she said, “I'm glad it's finally gone."
OFFICIALS FAILED TO ACT ON PRIOR REPORTS
A Newham Council spokesman said: 'On 28 April 2011, the council investigated a complaint that a dog had bitten a cyclist in Albert Square. 'On 6 May 2011, the council's animal welfare officers conducted an initial visit to the property but there was no response. 'This case was discussed by police and the Council in June 2011 and no further investigation was conducted at the time..As this is now subject to a criminal investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time," he stated.
DANGEROUS DOGS ACT
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (and as amended in 1997) it is illegal to own any Specially Controlled Dogs without specific exemption from a court.
The dogs have to be muzzled and kept on a lead in public, they must be registered and insured, neutered, and microchipped. The Act also bans the breeding, sale and exchange of these dogs, even if they are on the Index of Exempted Dogs.
Four types in particular were identified by the Act: Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro.
The Act also covers cross breeds of these dog. Dangerous dogs are classified by 'type', not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited 'type'.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not on the banned list, but there is a campaign to include them.