Warning on NI impact of XL Bully ban

Warning on NI impact of XL Bully ban

Northern Ireland could “become a dumping ground” for American XL Bullies when they are banned in the rest of the UK, it has been warned.

The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warned the outlawing of the breed in England, Scotland and Wales in the wake of several high profile attacks, including the death of a man in n Stonnall, Staffordshire, would create more problems here.

Director of operations and development Siobhan McHaffie said: “We would expect that Northern Ireland will become a dumping ground, but even if it doesn’t there will be ramifications.

“An XL Bully is a status dog and is hard to look after.

“People have been relinquishing them before the ban was even announced. We have been inundated with requests from worried owners.”

There are currently dozens of the dogs available for sale across NI and the USPCA boss expects that many of the dogs will end up in its care in the wake of recent attacks, including the mauling of an 11-year-old girl and two  in Birmingham.

“I suspect many of the dogs will end up with us. There is already a long waiting list for people wanting to give up their pets,” Ms McHaffie said.

“That creates a risk of people taking matters into their own hands which will see dogs abandoned and goodness knows what else.

“We really struggle to rehome animals, but a breed that people are wary of will be more difficult.

“As we never put a healthy dog down they will end up in pens for a long time.

“Some breeders breed them to be aggressive and there is no way to know when buying one,” she explained.

“A lot it comes down to responsible ownership and consulting with qualified animal behaviourists if there are problems.

“We would never recommend buying a dog online because you don’t know anything about its history.”

The UK’s chief veterinary officer has stressed there will be an amnesty before a ban on American XL bully dogs, after an expert said the breed was behind almost half of all attacks on humans and dogs killed since 2021.

An amnesty for XL bullies would mean existing animals were not culled, but owners would be required to register and keep them leashed and muzzled in public, Christine Middlemiss said.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement on a ban, a spokesperson from the Dog Control Coalition, of which the British Veterinary Association is a member, said: “The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.

“The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public – but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.

“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working. The UK 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.

“The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public.

“It is also critical that any policy designed to protect public safety is based on robust evidence and we are deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites.”