The UK government has announced that it will ban the ownership and breeding of American XL bullies, a type of dog that has been involved in several fatal attacks. The ban will take effect from December 31, 2021 in England and Wales, but not in Scotland.
What are American XL bullies?
- American XL bullies are a crossbreed of American pit bull terriers and mastiffs, created in the US in the 1990s.
- They are known for their large size, muscular build, and powerful jaws. They can weigh up to 150 pounds and stand up to 23 inches tall at the shoulder.
- They are not recognized by any major kennel club or dog registry, and there is no standard for their appearance or temperament.
Why are they banned?
- The UK government has decided to add American XL bullies to the list of banned dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which already includes four other breeds: pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino, and fila brasileiro.
- The ban is based on the evidence of the potential harm and risk posed by these dogs to public safety and animal welfare.
- The government cited several recent incidents involving American XL bullies, such as:
- The death of a man in Staffordshire in September 2021, who was reportedly attacked by two of his own dogs.
- The injury of a teenager in North Lanarkshire in October 2021, who was bitten by a dog that was later euthanized.
- The killing of a Yorkshire terrier by an American XL bully in Glasgow in May 2021, which also injured its owner.
What are the rules for owners?
- From December 31, 2021, it will be illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow American XL bullies to stray in England and Wales.
- From February 1, 2024, it will be illegal to own an American XL bully in England and Wales, unless it is on a list of exempted dogs.
- To be exempted, owners must comply with certain conditions, such as:
- Keeping their dogs muzzled, neutered, microchipped and on a lead at all times in public.
- Having their dogs insured against third party liability.
- Notifying the authorities of any changes in their dogs’ details or circumstances.
How are people reacting?
- The UK government has faced mixed reactions from animal welfare groups, dog owners, and experts over the ban.
- Some have welcomed the move as a necessary step to protect people and animals from dangerous dogs.
- Others have criticized the ban as ineffective, unfair, and based on a vague definition of the breed.
- Some have also expressed concerns about the fate of the existing American XL bullies and their owners, who may face difficulties in complying with the rules or finding new homes for their dogs.
What about Scotland?
- The ban on American XL bullies does not apply to Scotland yet, as it has a different legal system and animal welfare legislation.
- The Scottish government has said that it is carefully considering the evidence and whether to adopt the same or similar measures as England and Wales.
- However, some Scottish politicians have urged the government to act swiftly and ban the breed as soon as possible.