American XL bully dogs to be banned, says Prime Minister

The prime minister hopes to ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act by the end of the year

American XL bully dog is a danger to communities and will be banned, says Rishi Sunak

The prime minister has said they are a danger to communities, particularly to children.

In a video posted on social media, the Prime Minister said: “I’ve ordered urgent work to define and ban this breed so we can end these violent attacks and keep people safe.”

He added that he “shares the nation’s horror” regarding videos of recent dog attacks, including the incident which “tragically led to a fatality”.

West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed that a man had died in Staffordshire after being attacked by two dogs outside a property.

“It’s clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on,” Sunak says.

“While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public.”

Police and dog experts are due to work alongside the goverment to define the breed with the view to ban them under the Dangerous Dogs Act by the end of the year.

A series of attacks have recently made headlines, with an 11-year-old girl suffering serious injuries in Birmingham last week, with two other men also injured.

The UK does not currently recognise the American bully XL as a specific breed, although they are recognised in the US.

According to the campaign group Bully Watch, the breed first started to appear in the UK in 2014 or 2015 before rapidly increasing in popularity during the pandemic.

In the past five years, there has been a 34 per cent increase in dog attacks, from 16,394 in 2018 to 21,918 last year.

Meanwhile in Scotland, which has its own legal system, no “firm decision” has been made over whether a ban on American XL bully dogs will be introduced here.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said he would consider introducing such a measure after Rishi Sunak announced the breed would be outlawed in England by the end of the year.

Yousaf confirmed he had asked his officials “to liaise with the UK Government to understand a little bit more about the proposals in relation to the ban”.

Speaking on a visit to a nursery in Rutherglen, the First Minister said: “We have not made a firm decision yet.”

With SNP backbencher Christine Grahame bringing forward a member’s bill to Holyrood on dog welfare, Yousaf said that proposed legislation could mean “there may be opportunities to consider a ban up here in Scotland”.

But he added: “We haven’t come to a firm conclusion on that.”

Several charities have come out against moves to ban XL bullies.

A spokesperson from the Dog Control Coalition – which is made up of RSPCA, Blue Cross, Battersea, Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, Scottish SPCA, The Kennel Club and BVA – said: “The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.

“The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public – but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.

“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working.

“The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.

“The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public.

“It is also critical that any policy designed to protect public safety is based on robust evidence and we are deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites.”

  • Journalists are a bit like postmen who have to knock on doors of individuals they don’t know personally and have never met in their life before. Dogs can be aggressive when a postman knocks. My only experience of bully dogs happened when I was up Glen Fruin taking pictures of lambing. It was a freezing cold day and there were no sheep or lambs in the fields. They were being kept warm in sheds. I knocked on the door of a farmhouse to ask for permission to to go in and take some photographs. There was a bark out of Hell from behind the door, which was opened by an elderly farmer on crutches who beckoned me into the house where an American Bulldog was kept in a wire cage in the living room. When this massive dog saw me it barked loudly and started jumping around, rocking the cage. I was terrified. I wasn’t keen to take up the owner’s invitation to sit down a few feet away and I was relieved beyond measure when I got out to the barn to take my pictures. It was a terrifying experience, which I will not be repeating. The dog never touched me, but I did feel threatened and extremely scared. And I can well see why these dogs are being banned. Let sleeping dogs lie. There’s a great deal to be said for that ancient advice. Editor

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