Scots warned not to buy XL bully dogs as ban announcement in Scotland edges closer | UK News

Scots are being warned not to buy XL bully dogs as a ban north of the border edges closer to being announced.

New regulations have come into force in England and Wales following a spate of attacks in which people have died or been injured by the breed.

It will be illegal to own this type of dog south of the border from 1 February without an exemption certificate.

At Holyrood on Tuesday, community safety minister Siobhian Brown told MSPs the government was “urgently reviewing” the policy following reports of widespread rehoming of the dogs from England to Scotland.

“It would be preferable not to acquire any such dog at the present time in Scotland,” she warned.

Ms Brown said officials are considering evidence on the situation, and she had met many different groups including the Scottish SPCA and the Dog’s Trust.

She said no breed had been banned for 30 years and it was important to listen to expert views.

Ms Brown said: “The unintended consequences of the UK government’s policy is that we’re now seeing an influx of XL bully dogs coming to Scotland.

“It is important to ensure Scotland does not become a safe haven or a dumping ground for the XL bully dogs from England and Wales.”

Sammy Wilkinson, 29, told Sky News how he had transported around 12 XL bully dogs from England to Scotland ahead of the ban coming into force.

He said “no dog is ever born bad” and believes a blanket ban is the wrong approach.

Pic: Sammy Wilkinson
Sammy Wilkinson has rehomed around 12 XL bully dogs in Scotland. Pic: Sammy Wilkinson

The Scottish SPCA agrees and believes both the UK and Scottish governments should instead target irresponsible ownership and low-welfare breeding practices.

The animal welfare charity told Sky News it had not seen an increase in the number of XL bully dogs being brought to its centres since the restrictions started.

Read more:
New rules come into force
How experts predict ban will change things

What are the rules in England and Wales?

XL bullies were added to the Dangerous Dogs Act on 31 October 2023, giving owners two months to prepare for the restrictions.

The dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled when out in public.

Selling, breeding, abandoning or giving them away is also now illegal.

People have until 31 January to apply for an exemption certificate to keep their dog – and must have it neutered, microchipped and insured.

Owners in England and Wales who fail to obtain an exemption by then will have to euthanise their dog or face a possible criminal record and fine.

‘Place the blame on the breeder and owner, not the dog’

Responding to Ms Brown at Holyrood, Conservative MSP Jamie Greene stated: “The unintended consequences we’re seeing are not a result of UK legislation, but as a result of this Scottish government failing to take action.”

He highlighted a Facebook group with 20,000 members that has been discussing rehoming XL bullies in Scotland.

Mr Greene was dismissive of the government’s review, saying it had been going on for months.

He also referred to a report that an XL bully had been cruelly beaten to death after an unsuccessful attempt to sell it in Scotland.

He said: “I would not want to be the minister in charge of any policy who dithered and delayed a day longer than is necessary on this issue and another tragedy occurs.”

However, SNP backbencher Christine Grahame urged the government to take a different approach, saying the regulations are “hasty and simplistic”.

She suggested amending the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act, explaining: “It places blame and responsibility where it lies – on the breeder and the owner, not the dog.”