Mum of woman killed by own dog ‘as big as a lion’ begged her to get rid of pet

A heartbroken mum whose daughter was killed by her own dog is backing a Mirror call for a law change saying: “We have to stop these nightmare deaths.“

Dot Robinson, 67, told how she warned her “gem” of a daughter that “something bad” was going to happen just two weeks before she died.

Her daughter, mum-of-two Joanne Robinson, 43, was pinned down in the jaws of her American XL ‘bully’ bulldog called Rocco last month.

Last month she said her final farewells to Joanne at her funeral.

Dot told the Mirror all the family, including Joanne’s two children Dillon, 24, and Elle, 19, were “in bits”.

“I’ve never seen a dog as big as Rocco, he had started fighting with their other dog Lola and I begged her to get rid of one of them,” she said

“I warned her what would happen but she adored that dog and said ‘I can’t give up on him mum!’.”

The numbers of dog bite deaths have doubled in the last 15 years with eight people killed already this year, including four children.

Dot, backing the Mirror’s campaign, said: “Something needs to happen now, too many people have died from dog attacks.”

Now she wants action and believes the Government should crack down on breeders of such dogs and bring back dog licences like there used to be in the 80s.

“They should also have special licences for these bigger breeds. Our Jo had tried to do everything right but they were just so big and strong,’ Dot said from her bunglaow in Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorks.

Joanne tragically died on July 15 after she was seized around the throat by her 18-month old pet who was the “size of a lion”.

Her frantic boyfriend of 22 years, Jamie Stead, desperately tried to save his screaming partner, fighting off the pet at their home in West Melton, Rotherham.

He has undergone skin grafting for potentially life changing injuries to one hand and has suffered injuries to his other hand, abdomen and face.

Dot said: “She paid £4,000 for Rocco from a breeder in Doncaster that she saw advertised online.

“I think he was about eight weeks old and when she went there they told her he was at another address, then she got there and they sent her to a third address. They were about half an hour from each other all these addresses.

“They told our Jo the parent had cost £45,000 from America, this is what he said. I thought that was a load of rubbish. Jo told me the puppies were all fighting in a cage.

“If it had been me I would have given up then but they put Rocco in her arms and she fell in love. She didn’t see the parents of Rocco.

“With Lola, their other dog, they paid £2,000 and met the litter who were all playing outside. There was a big difference. You could see they were from a loving area.”

Joanne, a carer for young people with Down Syndrome, had been off work since suffering from endometriosis and needing surgery.

During the pandemic, her two pets dogs of 16 years, Staffies Buster and Tyson, died – leaving her “heartbroken”.

Eventually she decided to get Lola followed by Rocco, opting for two XL Bully dogs because they were seen as ‘gentle giants’.

“Having those dogs made Jo happy,” Dot said. “They were like her babies. Rocco would lie on her knee and right across her and was always kissing her.”

But the problems erupted when Rocco and two year old Lola, started fighting.

The first fight, Dot said, was last August and then again at Christmas, leaving Jamie hurt during one of their fights.

“They had to separate them from each other and they were living in different rooms. Rocco was our Jo’s and she adored him and he followed her everywhere,” Dot said.

“Our Jo had even cancelled a holiday to Mexico to stay with the dogs because of the problems and was going to pay £400 for a dog behaviourist to help them.”

Of her torment, Dot said: “I only stopped crying five minutes before you got here,” she told the Mirror reporter as she showed the memorial to Joanne, a Camelia plant surrounded by white feathers left by her relatives in her front garden.

Talking about the day her daughter died, she explained: “I got a phone call from her partner who said; ‘Can you come up the dogs have attacked me and Jo.’

“I said ‘oh bloody hell not again!’. Lola had always been going for Rocco.

“They live five minutes from me and my grandson took me but when I got there, police and ambulance were everywhere.

“I asked to speak to Jamie but they said he was in the ambulance with five paramedics working on him.

“I thought Jo was just in the house talking to police but then a police officer told us to; ‘Shift back. There’s a fatality in there!’

“I was with our Elle, Jo’s daughter. I had my arm around here and then just collapsed to the ground because that’s when I realised Jo was dead. She was the only person left inside.

“Then another officers took me round the back and sat me on a wall and said; ‘I’m sorry love your daughter’s dead’. I was in disbelief.”

Both dogs have now been destroyed, “they’re gutted but Jamie can’t have the dog back in the house now Jo’s gone.” she said.

“We’re not coping, none of us. The funeral is at the end of the month.

“She would not have blamed Rocco for it though. Jo was like that, just lovely. She always picked up waifs and strays. She was a gem and was adored around here.

“She was my best mate. She was beautiful inside and out.

“And we still are in such shock, we think it may have been something to do with the extreme hot weather but there’s an autopsy on Rocco this week. I can’t believe I am never going to see her again.”

Joanne’s big sister, Vicky Robinson, 45, wants to see breeders licensed too and said: “I just wished she’d listened to us and got rid of it before it got to this. She thought she could change it but she couldn’t.

“But I never thought the dog would ever turn on them, it was just not a nice way to live having to worry about them fighting each other.

“I told her to get rid of them or one at least one. But she was adamant about getting a dog trainer in.

“I can’t believe she’s gone.”