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Fears XL Bully ban could make some dogs more dangerous

04 Dec 2023 4 minute read
XL Bully William who was abandoned and is now housed at Hope Rescue Centre (Credit: BBC Wales)

An investigation has uncovered fears that the ban on XL Bullys could make some dogs more dangerous.

The probe by BBC Wales saw concerns over a ban from many quarters.

Dave Martin, a vet and welfare advisor to large veterinary group IVC Evidensia, feared attacks in the home could increase if the ban leads to more XL Bullys being kept indoors without stimulation and exercise.

Victims of XL Bully attacks have also raised fresh concerns about irresponsible breeders simply switching to other large dog breeds to get round the ban. These concerns are shared by welfare charities.

The ban on the dogs in England and Wales will come into force on 31st December, with new rules including keep dogs muzzled and on a lead in public.

Owners who wish to keep their dogs must apply to the exemption scheme or they can choose to have their dog euthanised and apply for compensation.

BBC Wales challenged the Welsh and UK Governments on claims that a ban will not work and asks what else will be needed to address the increase in serious and fatal dog attacks.

New figures were revealed which estimated that there could be least three times as many XL Bullys in the UK as the government first thought.

Mr Martin said that he understood why the government had taken action but that he was concerned about unintended consequences of the ban.

“My worry is that the American Bully XL population is quite young… so we’ve got young fit athletic dogs who are going to have a high demand for exercise, high demand for stimulation,” said the vet of 26 years.

“If we end up frustrating these dogs, they’re not getting the exercise they need, is that going to run the risk of more attacks within the house?

“We don’t know is the simple answer, but it is a concern.

“Some dogs may be more likely to attack than they were beforehand”.

XL Bully dog

Grandmother Shirley Patrick was fatally attacked by an XL Bully cross at her home near Caerphilly in December 2022.

Her daughter, Gail, said the dog was brought into the house by someone else.

“The dog just ran from the conservatory… into the living room and went straight for her face,” she said.

Gail has since joined a campaign for responsible dog ownership along with the mother of 10-year-old Jack Lis, who was also killed by an XL Bully.

She supports the ban, but is also concerned about other breeds and is calling for all large dogs to be muzzled in public.

“Somebody has got to do something about this,” she said.

“It’s only going to be a matter of time [before] another monster breed will be bred.

“I don’t want my mother to have died in vain.”

Hope Rescue, based in south Wales, say a breed specific ban will not work, because irresponsible breeders and owners are the source of the problem.

William is one of a number of XL Bully dogs to arrive at rescue centres like Hope Rescue, suspected of being abandoned after the ban was announced.

Rachael Millard, a mental health nurse, was attacked by two XL Bullys in March 2022 while trying to protect her 15 week old Boxer puppy, Floyd.

The attack has left her on medication for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and unable to work as much as she did.

“I had three puncture wounds on the left side of my leg and I had a puncture wound on the right side and I had a chewed-up finger,” she said.

Despite her experience, Rachael is not in favour of a ban, and instead wants the government to look more closely at regulating owners.

In a statement, the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it had taken ‘quick and decisive action’ to protect the public and was ‘making sure’ existing powers to tackle dog control issues were applied. It added that owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control-regardless of breed-are already breaking the law, and enforcement authorities have a full range of powers to apply penalties to them.

BBC Wales Investigates: Dogs on Death Row: Will the Bully Ban Work? is broadcast this evening at 8pm on BBC One Wales and is also available to view on iPlayer.

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