THE Government must urgently ban a breed of dog “bred to kill”, a Conservative former minister has said.

Senior Tory MP Sir John Hayes said there was “no debate” needed that the American Bully XL must be banned, following a spate of attacks involving the breed in recent years.

They include the death of St Helens toddler Bella-Rae Birch in 2022 and Jonathan Hogg in Leigh last month.

The American Bully XL is closely related to the banned Pit Bull Terrier breed, but is not subject to any legal restrictions itself.

St Helens Star: Bella-Rae Birch was killed by an American Bully XLBella-Rae Birch was killed by an American Bully XL (Image: Merseyside Police)

Sir John, the MP for South Holland and the Deepings, told the Commons: “Regretfully, the subject of dangerous dogs is salient again. Deep regrets of the most tragic events.”

He added: “Just last month, a 37-year-old man was killed in Greater Manchester.”

Jonathan Hogg died in hospital after suffering serious injuries when he was attacked by a dog in Leigh.

Sir John went on: “A 17-month-old, Bella-Rae Birch, killed last year. Just before that, a 10-year-old, Jack Lis.

“They were all killed by this so-called Bully Dog, the American XL Bully Dog.

“We need an urgent statement from the Government, not to debate this matter but simply to confirm that this bad breed, bred to kill, should be banned.”

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt replied: “I think many people would be surprised to hear the volume of such attacks that do take place, and there has been a spate of them recently that have been incredibly shocking, and the result of owners not being able to control those animals.

“It is a very serious matter. I know the Secretary of State (Therese Coffey) is aware of these matters.

St Helens Star: Jonathan Hogg was killed in LeighJonathan Hogg was killed in Leigh (Image: GMP)

“As the next questions to her are not until July 6, I shall write on his behalf and make sure that the Secretary of State has heard it today.”

There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK, the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.

A Defra spokesperson said: “These are deeply tragic incidents, and our sympathies remain with all the families impacted.

“We take the issue of dangerous dogs and fatal dog attacks seriously and are making sure enforcement measures are fully utilised.

“These measures range from Community Protection Notices that can be served for low-level anti-social behaviour to offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act – where serious offences can see people put in prison for up to 14 years, disqualified from ownership or their dog euthanised if they allow it to become dangerously out of control.”

Bella-Rae Birch was attacked by the family dog at her home on Bidston Avenue, Blackbrook at around 3.50pm on Monday, March 21, last year.

The young girl was rushed to hospital by paramedics, but she later died as a result of her injuries.

An inquest into Bella-Rae’s death was opened in the spring last year and was concluded in a hearing at Bootle Town Hall in the autumn.

The record of inquest stated: “Bella-Rae Birch was sadly pronounced deceased on March 21, 2022, at Whiston Hospital, Merseyside.”

It added Bella-Rae “tragically died” after “a lawfully owned family pet, suddenly and without warning or any provocation took hold of her” and she was “fatally injured”.

The inquest heard: “This was an unforeseen tragedy that happened at the family home.”

Coroner for St Helens, Knowsley and Sefton Julie Goulding concluded Bella-Rae’s death was an accident.

As part of the police's investigation, the dog was subject to further forensic examinations to determine the breed of dog and whether it is a legal breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991).

Tests concluded that the dog involved was an American Bully XL, a legal breed not subject to any prohibitions.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Hogg, 37, died following the attack at a friend's house on Westleigh Lane, Leigh last month

An inquest opened into his death at Bolton Coroner's Court.

The court heard how Mr Hogg, of Lowe Mill Lane, Hindley, had been looking after the dog on behalf of his friend when it bit him, causing fatal injuries to his arm, leg and head.

Police Coroners Officer (PCO) Julie Ann Hyde said: "On May 18 this year, Mr Hogg had been looking after a friend's dogs on Westleigh Lane, Leigh.

"He entered the dogs' pen and one of the dogs attacked him, leaving bite wounds to his arm, leg and head."

Police and paramedics were called and Mr Hogg was taken to Salford Royal Hospital.

PCO Hyde said: "Sadly, he passed away at 2.05am on May 19 at Salford Royal Hospital due to his injuries."

A post-mortem exam found Mr Hogg's cause of death to be head and neck injuries.

PCO Hyde confirmed that police enquiries were still ongoing into Mr Hogg's death, but did not know how long they are set to take.

Coroner Prof Dr Alan Walsh ordered for statements to be taken from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Salford Royal Hospital and Mr Hogg's GP.

He did not set a date for full inquest, but set a date for a review on September 1 this year.

Mr Hogg's family previously paid tribute to him through GMP, saying he was "loved by everyone who knew him".

In a statement issued through the police, the family said: "Jonathan was a well-loved, sensitive, and kind person who will never know how loved and appreciated he was by everyone who knew him.

"We have been inundated with messages of support."