Fareham dog walker and trainer Ian 'Wiggy' Symes thought to be killed by XL American Bully breed dog
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Popular local dog walker and trainer Ian ‘Wiggy’ Symes, 34, died in the savage incident on Wednesday morning around 10.25am at Fareham Park Recreation Ground by Hillson Drive - just two days after a three-year-old girl was mauled by a Dobermann in Leigh Park but survived.
Locals from the close-knit ‘Highlands’ estate next to where the incident happened by a fence adjoining Henry Cort Community College said ‘Wiggy’ was ‘never seen without a dog’.
The News now understands the dog that carried out the attack was an XL American Bully.
They are not currently a banned breed in the UK. The XL Bully is, though, a cross between pitbull-type dog breeds and mastiffs.
Police arrested a 20-year-old man from Fareham on suspicion of being the owner/person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death.
Meanwhile, officers are carrying out patrols of the area amid tensions.
Mr Symes’ brother Martin, paying tribute on social media, said: ‘The past 30 hours have been pretty shocking and very hard to really understand what happened and why.
‘Thanks for all the messages and tributes for my brother. It’s very touching to see the flowers and messages left at the field.’
He added: ‘The facts are he was out walking a dog, something he loved to do and as sad as it is least he passed away doing something he loved.’
Martin added: ‘The people that were on the scene from the start should be very proud of how they reacted to the situation.
‘They tried their best in a very bad situation, something that no one should have to be put through.’
A female resident, who lives close to the field, said: ‘He always had a dog with him. He was good with dogs and would help train them.
‘I saw him the night before it happened with a big dog that had no muzzle on.’
Another said: ‘He would walk so many dogs, you would always see him. Everyone knew of him. He was never seen without a dog.’
A man who lives close to the field said he saw Mr Symes with a dog minutes before the attack. ‘I saw him with an evil type of dog that was really muscly walking past. It’s horrible what happened,’ he said.
A female resident said: ‘Wiggy had a heart of gold.’
Locals described how the area was quickly cordoned off after the attack as police and an air ambulance arrived.
A police spokesman said: ‘We are still carrying out enquiries to establish the exact breed of the dog, but initial enquiries suggest it is an XL American Bully.
‘We are patrolling the area and will continue to do so over the weekend.’
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An RSPCA spokeswoman, speaking about both incidents this week, said: ‘We’re saddened to hear of these two incidents and our thoughts are with the child and her family, and the family and friends of the man who sadly lost his life.
‘The RSPCA promotes responsible dog ownership and has more information on dog behaviour, The Dangerous Dogs Act, and keeping children safe and dogs happy on the website.’