BVNA comments on preparations for XL Bully ban

Following UK government’s announcement of how the ban on XL Bully dogs will be implemented in England and Wales, existing owners of these dogs are now able to apply for an exemption. Amongst this progression of the ban, BVNA stands by its original statement and calls for the continued need to overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Under the new legislation, the UK government ban on XL Bully dogs will be implemented in two phases –

  1. From 31st December 2023, it will be against the law to:
  • Sell, give away or otherwise rehome an XL Bully dog
  • Abandon and XL Bully dog, or let it stray
  • Breed from an XL Bully dog
  • Have an XL Bully dog in public without a lead and muzzle
  1. From 1st February 2024, it will be against the law to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales, unless the dog has a Certificate of Exemption. This exemption must be applied for by 31st January 2024.

More information on preparing for the XL Bully dog ban can be found here.

BVNA agrees that there is an urgent need to protect the public from out-of-control dogs, however stands with the Dog Control Coalition’s opposition to ban the XL Bully dog in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Unfortunately, this legislation has been ineffective in preventing dog bites. Despite four dog breeds already appearing on the list of banned breeds, NHS hospital admission data shows that dog bites have increased by 159% between 2000-01 and 2021-22 – from 3,366 to 8,758.

BVNA President Lyndsay Hughes commented: “We are disappointed that the opportunity to overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act hasn’t been taken, as the evidence clearly demonstrates this legislation is not fit for purpose. The need to address specific owners that have poor control over their dogs has been missed; opting for a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution. To effectively protect the public, legislation needs to shift its focus from the dog itself to irresponsible owners and unscrupulous breeders, and confront dog-related issues regardless of breed or type. There are many responsible owners, with well-behaved XL Bully dogs, that will now have to deal with the stigma placed upon them and their dog.

“We are also concerned that the government definition of an XL Bully type is extremely subjective and difficult to interpret – making both enforcement and owner interpretation a huge challenge as the ban comes into effect. Cross breeds or similar looking dogs are therefore at risk, which may lead to unnecessary enforcement of this legislation on an enormous number of otherwise happy and healthy pet dogs.

“Moreover, we feel that the impact on veterinary professionals will require serious consideration. All members of the veterinary team are likely to be faced with the very real possibility of assisting with euthanasia of young and healthy animals. Whilst we recognise in the case of any aggressive dog presenting to the practice that this is a viable treatment option, we will explore all other options whilst considering human safety before this final step. If presented with an XL Bully dog, whether aggressive or not, the options to the veterinary team will now be much more limited. The offer of compensating for the partial costs of the euthanasia may go some way to alleviating the client’s suffering, but this will have a serious impact of the wellbeing of the veterinary team faced with this task.

“We will continue to monitor this situation and offer our ongoing support to BVNA members.”

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