The ownership of American Bully XLs will become illegal in England and Wales effective Feb. 1 next year, unless owners secure an exemption. As of January 2023, these dogs must be muzzled and leashed in public. However, according to BBC News, owners of this breed in the UK will have a grace period to ensure that their dogs are neutered.
Myths about American Bully’s aggression led to their ban
Starting Dec. 31, 2023, it will be illegal to sell, abandon, breed, or give away an American Bully XL. Moreover, having one in public without a leash or muzzle will be a punishable offense.
Notably, the American Bully XL isn’t officially recognized by the UK Kennel Club. According to the guidelines released by Defra, these dogs are described as having large and muscular physiques.
These features are indicative of substantial strength when compared to their size. However, despite the breed’s intimidating appearance and myths about purported aggression, many owners emphasize their affectionate nature.
American Bully XL joins 4 other banned breeds
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the ban after a series of incidents involving American Bully XLs, including a fatal attack in Walsall, England, on Sep. 14., along with several assaults in Birmingham and Caerphilly.
As a consequence, the new regulations mirror those which have been established for the four breeds currently banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This act allows the government to ban any dog who seems “to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose.”
The canines on the UK’s banned list include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino, and the Fila Brasileiro. However, rules pertaining to the American Bully XL’s ban are yet to apply to Northern Ireland or Scotland.
Only if Scottish ministers consent to the ban, will the American Bully XL be banned in Scotland. On the other hand, a ban on the breed in Northern Ireland would need a separate change to the law.
Breed banning is no solution, claims dog lovers
The UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, clarified that there will be no mass elimination of American Bully XLs. Instead, owners can retain possession of their dogs under specific conditions.
Firstly, XL Bully parents must register their canine companions on the Index of Exempted Dogs, subject to an application fee. Secondly, the dogs must be neutered, microchipped, and covered by third-party insurance.
However, opposition to the ban has surfaced from the Dog Control Coalition. Members of the coalition — aka Battersea, Blue Cross, the Dogs Trust, BVA, the Scottish SPCA, the Kennel Club, and Hope Rescue — have rallied to protest against this new rule.
In addition, these organizations have emphasized the ineffectiveness of breed-specific prohibitions. “The government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control,” they remarked in an interview with the BBC.