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The UK XL Bully Dog Ban Announcement: Understanding the Implications

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Introduction

In a recent announcement by the Press Office, a significant update to the Dangerous Dogs Act has sent shockwaves throughout the dog-owning community. This development, to come into effect on 31 December 2023, brings with it a series of strict regulations and restrictions that every dog owner must be aware of. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of this announcement, the implications for XL Bully dog owners, and what actions need to be taken to ensure compliance.

Example of AM Bully XL. Image by Josie Clark – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124452109

Understanding the Ban

The announcement specifies that starting from 31 December 2023, breeding, selling, advertising, rehoming, abandoning, and even allowing an XL Bully dog to stray will be considered illegal activities. Furthermore, XL Bully dogs will be required to be muzzled and kept on a lead while in public spaces. The gravity of these regulations cannot be understated, and it’s essential for XL Bully owners to comprehend the implications fully.

Owning an XL Bully Dog

One of the most significant aspects of this announcement is the stipulation that from 1 February 2024, owning an XL Bully dog will also become illegal unless the dog is on the Index of Exempted Dogs. However, it’s crucial to note that as of now, applications for Certificates of Exemption are not being accepted. The Defra Press Office has assured that further details on the application process will be provided soon. This means that XL Bully owners have a limited window to prepare for the changes in legislation.

Guidance and Breed Definition

In response to concerns and questions from XL Bully owners, the announcement also included the release of guidance for owners and a clear breed definition. This transparency is designed to help XL Bully owners understand the criteria that will be used to determine whether their dogs fall under the banned category. This information is invaluable for owners uncertain about their dog’s classification.

A male American Bully XL. Image by: BullyB6 – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80191320

Environment Secretary’s Statement

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey made a strong statement regarding the decision, emphasizing the government’s commitment to safeguarding the public from dog attacks. She stated they’re taking quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks. Therefore, adding the XL Bully type to the list of dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act. It will soon become a criminal offense to breed, sell, advertise, rehome, or abandon an XL Bully type dog. XL Bully dogs must also be kept on a lead and muzzled in public. In due course, it will also be illegal to own one of these dogs without an exemption.

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Important Timeline

To help XL Bully owners navigate these changes effectively, the announcement also provided a timeline of key dates and actions they should be aware of:

  • Up until 31 December 2023: Owners should check their dog against the standard, start training their dogs to wear a muzzle, and walk on a lead before the restrictions come into force on 31 December 2023. XL Bully breeders should halt all breeding activity, as it will be a criminal offense to sell, transfer, exchange, gift, or advertise these dogs after this date.
  • From 31 December 2023: All owners of XL Bully breed types must comply with strict conditions, including keeping their dogs on a lead and muzzled in public, and refraining from breeding, selling, exchanging, gifting, or abandoning their dogs.
  • Up until 1 February 2024: Owners of XL Bully type dogs or owners of young dogs that could grow to be XL Bully type dogs have two options. They can apply for their dog to be added to the Index of Exempted Dogs. Owners should also ensure their dog is microchipped and registered on a microchip database. Planning to have their dog neutered is also important.
  • Euthanising their dog: The government will contribute £200 per dog towards the costs associated with euthanasia that takes place before 31 January 2024. Details on how to apply for compensation will be provided shortly.
xl bully dog
American Bully XL with un-cropped ears.

From 1 February 2024

It will be a criminal offence to be in possession of an XL Bully in England and Wales, unless owners have received an exemption.

  • By 30 June 2024: If your dog is older than one year on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024. Owners will need to provide evidence of this by the given date to maintain their exemption.
  • By 31 December 2024: If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. Owners will need to provide evidence of this by the given date to maintain their exemption.

A Growing List of Prohibited Breeds

With the inclusion of XL Bullies in the Dangerous Dogs Act, they become the fifth type of dog prohibited in the UK, alongside the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro. Defra has compiled a list of prohibited breeds, making it illegal to own, breed, or sell dogs from this list.

American Pit Bull Terrier. One of the dog breeds that is already on the banned list in the UK. Image by: Realironman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70483719

However, it is essential to note that even beyond specific breed bans, owning any dog that is dangerously out of control is against the law and can result in prison sentences and unlimited fines.

Public Reaction and Protests

The ban on XL Bully dogs has garnered mixed reactions. Owners of these dogs have staged protests against the ban, including a march that took place through central London in September. It’s important to note that demonstrators did not bring their dogs to the protest.

Watch our expert interview concerning the initial announcement of banning American Bully XL following the attacks

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Conclusion

The announcement regarding the inclusion of the XL Bully type in the list of banned dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act is a momentous change that will impact many dog owners.

In the coming weeks, it is advisable to stay tuned for further information and guidance from the Defra Press Office. Additional details on the application process for Certificates of Exemption are expected to be released. In the meantime, XL Bully owners should proactively take the necessary steps to ensure they are in compliance with the new regulations and timelines. These changes may be significant, but with proper understanding and preparation, XL Bully owners can navigate them successfully.

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