Illegal XL bully dog owners given stark threat if they flout new ban on dangerous breed | UK | News

February 1, 2024
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Thousands of illegal XL bully dogs face being put down if errant owners resist police officers’ attempts to seize their pets, a top officer has warned.

It is now a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without an exemption certificate, meaning unregistered pets will be taken and owners fined and prosecuted.

About 40,000 of the large bulldog-type American breed were expected to have been registered before yesterday afternoon’s deadline, but officials estimate tens of thousands more of the beasts remain without certificates. 

In many cases, these are most likely to be in the hands of criminals who do not wish to engage with any form of registration process. However, worried animal groups have slammed the ban, saying it risks healthy animals that pose no risk being put to sleep.

As the ban was rolled out, National Police Chiefs’ Council dangerous dogs lead Mark Hobrough urged members of the public to report any XL bully owners not following the rules so officers can assess the animals. 

Seized dogs will be taken to kennels before a court decides if they should either be destroyed or deemed not a danger to public safety. 

Assistant Chief Constable Hobrough said: “We didn’t create the law but we do enforce the law and we will have to execute warrants and seize dogs and take action towards such dog owners. 

“I would encourage strongly people to be compliant if that were the situation with their own dogs because one of the very tests that is made about a dog or an owner (in court) is that the dog is not aggressive, but also that the owner is fit and responsible and not aggressive also. 

“So if either of those things were not complied with, then there would be no option for a court then but to destroy the dog.”

The police chief admitted the new legislation could spark higher demand for kennels and cause “logistical challenges” for officers. However, he insisted forces are “actively looking to enhance” the numbers they can hold.

There are 137 dog legislation officers across the country, with at least one in every force.

The Government moved to ban XL bullies following a series of fatal attacks.

Ian Price, 52, from Staffordshire, was mauled to death while Jack Lis, 10, was killed at a friend’s house in South Wales.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We have delivered our pledge to bring in this important measure to protect public safety, and we expect all XL bully owners to comply with the strict conditions.”

The RSPCA estimates the total number of XL bullies in the UK to be between 50,000 and 100,000.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “The ban on XL bullies not only remains devastating for so many dogs, but is also taking a heavy toll on owners, on rescue centre staff who have grown close to dogs in their care, and to veterinary teams who face the prospect of being asked to put to sleep healthy dogs whose behaviour poses no risk.”

A Dog Control Coalition spokesman said: “We are concerned about the rise in dog-related incidents and steps must be taken to protect the public, but we do not believe that banning any type or breed of dog will stop these types of incidents from occurring. 

“A complete overhaul of the existing dog control legislation is the only way to tackle the root causes of the tragic incidents we have seen in recent years.”



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