Dangerous dogs: Police release guidance ahead of father's sentencing

Guidance on dangerous dogs has been released by South Yorkshire Police as a dad prepares to be sentenced after his dog mauled his baby son to death.

Steven Joynes is to be sentenced later this month after admitting being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog causing injury resulting in death.

The 36-year-old’s son Elon Jase Ellis-Joynes was only 12 days old when he was attacked by a Chow Chow-cross called Teddy in September 2020.

The dog mauled the newborn baby to death at the family home on Welfare Road, Woodlands in Doncaster.

Stephen Joynes and Abigail Ellis at a previous court hearing

Elon’s mum, Abigail Ellis, was also charged but the case against her was dropped earlier this week.

An inquest opening into Elon's death, held in 2020, heard the baby was still alive when his mother frantically called an ambulance.

Doncaster coroner's court heard that she told the 999 call handler that Elon was breathing, but was "really poorly" and was "bleeding from his leg or his stomach".

He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

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In new guidance issued by South Yorkshire Police, the force said: “Every dog owner living in South Yorkshire has a legal responsibility to keep their dog/s under control.

“It is a criminal offence for the owner of a dog - or the person in control of the dog at the time if this is not the registered owner - to allow it to be dangerously out of control either in a public place or on private property.

“By law, a dog doesn’t have to carry out a physical attack to be considered dangerous. It is also considered dangerously out of control if it causes a person to fear being harmed by the dog, even if harm or injury is not actually caused. Where injury does occur then it is an automatic aggravated offence and, upon a successful conviction, is open to a higher sentence by the court.

“If you are genuinely concerned that a dog is dangerously out of control, has bitten a person or another animal or is likely to do so, then you can call us.”

There are currently four banned breeds in this country:

- Pit bull terrier-type

- Tosa – a Japanese breed

- Fila Braziliero, or the Brazilian mastiff

- Dogo Argentino, or the Argentine Dogo.

South Yorkshire Police added: “If a person is breeding, selling, giving away or advertising for sale a banned breed of dog, then you can also call us.”

In a warning, the force added: “Every year a number of incidents unfortunately take place where a child is bitten by a dog in the family home or at an address they are visiting. It is always good advice never to leave a dog and children together without adult supervision.

“Children don’t always appreciate the impact their behaviour can have on a dog and the response it may cause. This can be both good and bad behaviour from a child. They might not be being cruel to a dog or winding it up, they may be trying to be over-friendly and hugging the dog more than it likes.”