19
Fri, Apr

XL Bully Ban Becomes Law in UK: Dangerous Dog Reports Could Double, Police Say

ANIMAL WATCH

ANIMAL WATCH - New laws on XL bullies in England and Wales went into effect on December 31, 2023, as planned—preceding an outright ban on the breed in February. However, police anticipate this will cause a greater number of violations to be reported which require law-enforcement response.

The UK government said the decision followed a number of high-profile attacks—some fatal—involving the breed, and “the new legislation would protect the public:”

According to the terms of the ban, dogs will need to be muzzled and kept on a lead in public.

It will also be illegal to re-home, sell, buy or transfer ownership of an XL bully to another person.

Owners who wish to keep their animals must apply to the exemption scheme before 1 February or can choose to have their dog euthanized and apply for compensation.

THE FICKLE XL-BULLY AFFICIANADO

However, a recent report by the Mirror shows that owners are already willing to abandon the XL Bullies in favor of a dog with a much stronger bite but not [YET] on the “banned” list.

There are now seeking an “ancient” dog breed with a bite “stronger than a lion’s,” as indicated in a recent report by the Daily Star which showed that searches for other aggressive breeds have been on the rise.

So, while searches of on-line dog breeders of XL Bully puppies has dropped 47% in the last three months, reportedly the Cane Corso had moved to the top of the list with 174,000 searches (up 36%), followed by the Rottweiler with 84,000 searches (up 35%) with the German Shepherd in third with 77,000.

DANGEROUS DOG ACT VIOLATIONS EXPECTED TO RISE

On December 30, 2023, a warning was issued by Gwent Police Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hobrough that the anticipated banning of XL Bully Dogs in England and Wales “could cause dangerous dog reports to double.”

He added that he also “appreciated concern over irresponsible breeders moving to other dogs.”

Research by BBC Wales Investigates produced information confirming that cases under the Dangerous Dogs Act, where a dog is found to be dangerously out of control, are currently rising.

Data from 27 out of 43 police force areas in England and Wales showed there were 15,350 offenses in 2022 – up 37% since 2019, when there were 11,183.

DOG ATTACKS INCREASED 34% IN ENGLAND AND WALES

In the past five years, the number of dog attacks causing injury reported by police in England and Wales rose more than one-third, according to the BBC report.

In 2018, there were “just over 16,000 attacks, but last year that number had catapulted to nearly 22,000,” the report showed. At the same time, the UK dog population estimate rose by only 15 percent.

POLICE NOW FOCUSING ON DANGEROUS DOGS

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says forces across the UK have been focusing on attacks and that this reporting of dangerous dogs is partially due to specific work by specialist officers.

Dogs which cause death or injury to a person or an assistance dog must be recorded by police, but other incidents; for example, a dog attacking another animal, or nuisance and anti-social dogs, do NOT meet that requirement.

Most incidents are because animals are deemed “out of control” – but there are other reasons. For example, some might be strays or they may be taken from people about to go into prison. He adds: “Having seen the affects of these dog attacks, I make no apology for seizing dogs where there is a risk.”

According to the report, at the time of writing there had been two fatal dog attacks so far this year. A dog walker was mauled to death at Caterham in Surrey in mid-January, and a four-year-old girl was killed by a family pet in Milton Keynes.

However, campaigners have linked the dogs to at least 14 human deaths since 2021.

How Many People Have Died from Dog Bites?

According to the Bully Watch report, American XL Bullies have been involved in 44 percent of attacks on people in 2023, and 75 per cent of fatalities since 2021, despite only being around 1 per cent of the UK dog population.

Law lecturer Dr. Lawrence Newport, who has been tracking the rise in fatal attacks by XL Bullies, said that in one week in July this year, one dog was killed every day by the breed on average, according to INews.

“They were ripped to shreds and others given injuries they can never really recover from,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the attacks were not about a handful of badly trained dogs but were a “pattern of behavior and it cannot go on.” He added that the animals were a “danger to our communities.”

Mr. Sunak said he had ordered ministers to bring together police and experts to define the breed of dog behind these attacks so they can then be outlawed.

“We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year,” he said. Any ban would have to come via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

However, the Dog Control Coalition, a group which includes the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs Home and the Royal Kennel Club, said banning specific breeds was not the solution and cited “irresponsible breeding, rearing and ownership.”

In a statement, it added: “The view of all leading animal charities is that the solution is not banning more types. Instead, the Government needs to focus on the improvement and enforcement of current breeding and dog control regulations, and on promoting responsible dog ownership and training.”

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PIT BULL AND XL BULLY

The most notable difference between the American Bully XL and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Pit Bull) is their size, which affects their characteristics. The American XL Bully XL is much larger, weighing in at around 150 pounds—or in the case of “Hulk,” a reported 175 lbs.) compared to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which typically up to 60 pounds.

XL Bully Owners Warned Not to Take Banned Dogs to Scotland

On January 3, 2023, the BBC published a warning to any XL Bully owner affected by the recent ban in England and Wales not to attempt to rehome a dog of that breed in Scotland due to an anticipated expansion of the legislation to that country also.

This was prompted by a report that one man claimed to have driven 33 dogs across the border for rehoming purposes.

 

The volunteer driver, Sammy Wilkinson, told reporters that he is a dog lover and offers to run errands or take dogs to appointments just to help them get care.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said “no firm decision” had been made on a Scottish response following the UK government’s decision in September.

This is obviously a very serious decision for both governments and the lives of millions of people who are forced to live in danger of a severe or fatal attack by someone else’s dog at any time.

(For anyone wishing to see the training that is provided for XL Bullies in order to make a personal decision, it is available here.)

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)