Southsea residents said they have spotted the notorious breed walking around Palmerston Road on a lead with the individual for around two weeks. No issues have been reported by people or received by police.
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But the sight of the “super breed” canine strutting across the busy shopping hub has led to people being on their guard. It comes amid a backdrop of concerns raised over problems with homeless people “ruling the roost” in the area. On Saturday, a suspected arson attack outside an empty shop where rough sleepers camp led to the arrest of a 33-year-old man. The man has now been bailed until December 16 while police enquiries continue.
A day before the blaze outside the former Clinton Cards, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the American XL Bully will be added to the breed types banned in the UK by the end of 2023 following a “series of horror attacks”. The breed was responsible for over 50 per cent of the deaths caused by dogs in the UK in the period between 2021 and 2023.
Last week, Ian Price was attacked by two suspected American XL bully dogs in Staffordshire and died later that day.
Meanwhile locally, the XL Bully became a hot topic of national discussion after The News broke the story of Ian “Wiggy” Symes being mauled to death in Henry Cort Playing Fields, Fareham, last August. The recently acquired dog from a Wickham travellers site carried out the attack after “quickly becoming aggressive” in sweltering heat. Little was known about the dog’s background.
A local who has seen the suspected American XL Bully in Palmerston Road said: “One of the homeless men has recently acquired an American XL Bully and has been walking in the precinct with it on a lead.
“The dog appears to be under control but certainly shoppers and precinct users seemed a bit wary of the man and his dog. Friends in Southsea have seen the dog and are calling it out as a Bully. The dog and the owner have been visible for about 10 days.”
On social media, residents have laid bare their fears over issues in the area. One person said: “Palmerston Road these days is really bad. There is a large group of homeless people who use our flat entrance and the hall as a toilet. They have large dogs (a dangerous breed) which they can hardly control. Something really bad could happen and maybe then the council will do something about it.”
Someone else said the “homeless rule the roost” and are “left to their own devices and totally un-policed and unanswerable to the law”. The local added: “ The odd PCSO has a chat with them as they pass through.”
Another added: “There has been a lot of fighting between the homeless guys this last week.”
A fourth posted: “I used to love going to Palmerston Road. Use to think it was the posh part of town...so sad to see the decline.”