XL bully ban comes into force as police chief urges owners to comply with authorities | UK News
It is now a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without an exemption certificate.
Unregistered pets can be seized and owners fined and prosecuted, with a police chief urging owners of the illegal animals to comply with officers if their dog is taken because their behaviour may influence a court’s decision to have it put down.
Around 40,000 of the large bulldog-type American breed are believed to have been registered before the deadline yesterday, but there may be thousands more without certificates.
National Police Chiefs’ Council dangerous dogs lead, Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Mark Hobrough has 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.
ACC Hobrough said: “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 recent ban may spark higher demand for kennels and cause “logistical challenges” for officers, ACC Hobrough said, with police forces “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 total number of XL bullies, estimated by animal groups, has ranged between 50,000 and 100,000, the RSPCA has said.
How experts predict XL bully ban will change things in 2024
Figures show between 2001 and 2021 there were three fatal dog attacks a year, compared with 23 over the two-year period after that, with XL bullies said to be behind many of them.
The breed was added to the Dangerous Dogs Act on 31 October last year when restrictions came into force dictating the dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.
Breeding, selling or abandoning the dogs also became illegal as of 31 December 2023.
Owners of XL bully dogs in Scotland will also be subject at a later date to the safeguards after the Scottish government replicated legislation in place south of the border.
A decision on whether to add to the list of banned breeds in Northern Ireland would be for locally elected ministers.
People with dangerously out of control dogs can be jailed for up to 14 years and banned from owning animals, and their pets can be put down.