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XL bully owners have just hours left to apply for exemptions to keep their pets

31 Jan 2024 2 minute read
American XL bully.

Dog owners have just hours left to apply for certificates of exemption if they wish to keep their XL bully pets before a ban on the breed comes into force.

From February 1, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog in England and Wales without a certificate.

Applications must be submitted by midday on Wednesday.

It follows restrictions coming into force at the end of last year which dictated the dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.

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

To qualify for an exemption certificate, owners must prove their XL bully has been neutered by June 30.

If the pup is less than a year old by Wednesday, they must be neutered by the end of 2024, and evidence must be provided.

As well as neutering their animals, XL bully owners seeking an exemption must also pay an application fee, hold third party public liability insurance for their pets and ensure the dogs are microchipped.


The UK Government move to ban the breed followed a series of attacks involving XL bullies, with one man dying after being savaged by one of the dogs last year.

But the RSPCA has previously said the measures were “not the answer” and warned of a “huge risk” that rescue centres and vets will be unable to cope with a likely surge in demand.

While the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) warned of increased abandonment rates and said the new rules may lead to a “postcode lottery” for vets being able to help owners meet the terms.

The dogs were added to the Dangerous Dogs Act on October 31 last year, giving owners two months to prepare for the first stage of restrictions.

People with dangerously out of control dogs can be jailed for 14 years and banned from owning animals, and their pets can be put down.

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