Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home NewsNational News American XL Bully restrictions come into force in Scotland this Month

American XL Bully restrictions come into force in Scotland this Month

Florence New writes on new legislation on the controversial dog breed.
4 mins read
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Image via BullyB6, Wikimedia Commons

As of the 1st of February 2024, it is now illegal to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate. After a string of high-profile XL Bully attacks, the government signalled its intention to tackle the issue last summer. Although there are no official breakdowns of dog attacks by breed, the general number of attacks has increased by more than a third in five years.  

Legally, this ban has been made possible under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, an example of “breed-specific” legislation. Four other types are currently banned, including the American pit bull terrier. Types of dogs are not categorised based on their family tree or pedigree, but rather based on looks alone, establishing certain grey areas. Banned dogs are seized, and a court determines whether they pose a risk to the public. If a dog kills a person, owners face a 14-year maximum prison term.  

Types of dogs are not categorised based on their family tree or pedigree, but rather based on looks alone, establishing certain grey areas

The first stage of government action was to define the breed, eventually settling on the current specification, including the presence of heavy muscles and a large, broad head. The second stage came on the 31st of December 2023, when it became illegal to sell, transfer ownership of, or abandon an XL Bully. Owners had time to apply for exemption certificates, of which there were more than 35,000 in total. For this, a microchip, insurance, neutering, and an application fee were all required. Dogs without exemption certificates can now be seized and possibly destroyed, with owners receiving a criminal record and a fine.  

Although originally not following the lead of England and Wales, the Scottish government has now chosen to introduce similar restrictions later this month, with exemption certificates coming into force in late July. Under devolution, the Scottish Parliament had the right to do what it wanted in this case, but ended up being pushed toward the decision as many XL Bullies were being rehomed in Scotland following the ban in England.  

The ban has not come without controversy. The Dog Control Coalition, including groups such as the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust have argued that breed-specific bans are ineffective and are unfair for the majority of owners. Instead of the ban, they believe significant changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act are needed. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home suggests earlier interventions and law enforcement before behaviour escalates. When the ban was initially announced, hundreds took to the streets in protest. Despite these criticisms, the government has continued with its intentions. 

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