Strong opposition voiced to XL Bully ban as implementation looms

From 1 February 2024 it will be illegal to own an XL Bully dog unless owners have applied for an exemption to the law banning the breed.

Since the start of this year, XL Bully owners have been legally required to microchip and neuter their dogs, keep them on a lead and muzzled in public at all times. 

Owners have until the end of the month to apply for an exemption or risk criminal proceedings, an unlimited fine, and the euthanising of their dogs.

However, the legislation has been widely condemned by animal rights groups on both practical and ethical grounds, and was described by one MP as “rotten legislation.”

Among the groups condemning the legislation are Kingston’s Violet’s Paw Rescue, a dog rehoming organisation, who say the ban constitutes a “knee jerk reaction.”

Like many opponents of the ban, Violet’s Paw Rescue have expressed concerns about supposed vagueness in how the legislation defines the XL Bully type, saying, “we are all frightened of having dogs removed or seized if they’re bigger than a Poodle or have a certain look/type – which could be most dogs.”

The breed-specific ban was introduced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in December 2023 after a series of attacks by XL bully dogs, who the PM described as “a danger to our communities.”

In October, two dogs suspected of being XL Bullies were seized by police before it was later determined that neither dog was such

Josh, a New Malden resident, rescued an XL Bully who was facing the threat of euthanasia in December 2023. He shares many of the concerns voiced by Violet’s Paw.

“It just seems so unfair to ban an entire breed based on the actions of a few dogs whose violent behaviour was probably more to do with bad owners than anything else.”

However, many of those with smaller dogs who have been attacked by XL Bully’s have voiced support of the new legislation.

On January 1 2024 it became illegal for centres to rehome any dogs who met the XL Bully criteria, raising fears of euthanasia.

Owners of XL Bullies have been offered £200 compensation in exchange for surrendering their dogs for euthanization, and some dog pounds have been left killing up to eight dogs a day

Earlier this month, a vigil was held in Dover for the XL Bully dogs already euthanized because of the ban. 

It has previously been suggested that the rise in popularity of XL Bullies comes from the breed being a status symbol owing to their large size and strength. 

Violet’s Paws Rescue argues that drug dealers using the dogs for protection are partially to blame for the popularity of the breed-type. 

They also argue that abusive and neglectful treatment of these dogs is responsible for many incidents of violent attacks.

“There are dangerous people and dogs, but the target should be the drug dealers wanting certain dogs for protection for themselves and to protect their merchandise,” they said.

Despite vocal opposition to the legislation soon to come into force in England and Wales, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has voiced support for introducing similar measures in Scotland. 

For those who are concerned the legislation may impact their dogs, Violet’s Paws Rescue recommends consulting Government guidelines on the criteria regarding XL Bully classification, and keeping up to date with Don’t Ban Me – Licence Me: a non profit organisation aimed at furthering education around the breed.

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