XL bullies may be put down if owners lack certification as breed becomes illegal

Thursday 1 February 2024

Illegal XL bully owners should comply with officers if their dog is seized because their behaviour may influence a court’s decision to have it put down, a police chief warned.

It is now a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without an exemption certificate, meaning unregistered pets will be taken and owners possibly fined and prosecuted.

Around 40,000 of the large bulldog-type American breed were expected to have been registered before the deadline on Wednesday afternoon, but there may be thousands without certificates.

National Police Chiefs’ Council dangerous dogs lead Mark Hobrough has urged members of the public to report any XL bully owners not following the rules so officers can assess the animals.

Seized dogs will be taken to kennels before a court decides if they should either be destroyed or deemed not a danger to public safety.

It is now a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without an exemption certificate.

Breeding, selling or abandoning the dogs has also became illegal as of December 31 2023.

Assistant Chief Constable Hobrough said: “I would urge everybody to comply with the law and the legislation. If people haven’t put their dog on the database already they are committing an absolute offence.

“We are as police forces going to be enforcing the law. We didn’t create the law but we do enforce the law and we will have to execute warrants and seize dogs and take action towards such dog owners."

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The Government move to ban XL bullies followed a series of attacks on people.

On Wednesday, footage emerged of police officers confiscating a dangerous dog following an attack in Hounslow, West London.

Figures show between 2001 and 2021 there were three fatal dog attacks a year, compared with 23 over the two-year period after that, with XL bullies said to be behind many of them.

The total number of XL bullies, estimated by animal groups, has ranged between 50,000 and 100,000, the RSPCA has said.

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