XL Bully dogs sent to NI as ban comes into force

XL Bully dogs sent to NI as ban comes into force

XL Bully dogs are being sent to Northern Ireland and Scotland to escape the incoming ban in England and Wales.

Owners and rescue centres are taking advantage of a legal loophole which means the breeds will not be illegal in the devolved administrations when the ban comes into effect in February.

Breeding, selling or rehoming the breed became illegal in England and Wales on 31 December and owning one without an exemption certificate will be outlawed from 1 February.

It follows a string of fatal attacks linked to XL Bully dogs in recent years.

There are estimated to be at least 10,000 XL Bullies in circulation – others put the figure at more than 100,000 – and rescue centres say they have been inundated with requests to take in unwanted pets since Rishi Sunak announced his intention to ban them in September.

The Government is offering £200 towards the cost of euthanising an XL Bully but the veterinary industry is struggling to cope with demand and have said they believe the ban could “collapse” before Christmas.

Protected Paws Animal Rescue, a charity in west London, successfully rehomed a litter of seven XL Bully puppies with a rescue centre in Ballymena.

Kerry Flynn, a veterinary nurse who also runs Protected Paws, said the puppies were dumped in a plastic bag outside the practice where she works.

“They were without their mother so God knows what’s happened to her, poor thing,” Ms Flynn  said.

“They were just in a plastic bag outside when we opened at 9am so they could have been there all night.”

Ms Flynn posted a picture of the puppies on her Facebook page and successfully raised around £700 to transport the puppies to the Halfway Dog House in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

“It’s what a lot of people are doing, getting them to Ireland or Scotland in this way,” she added.

In a post on its Facebook page, Halfway Dog House said: “We are working to save as many bullies in shelters in England to bring them to Northern Ireland. This must be done before 31 December or it will be illegal to transport them to NI.”

The centre added it had “verbally agreed to take in the region of 20 dogs” and is now fundraising to expand its kennels.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 does not apply to Northern Ireland and a ban on XL Bullys would require separate legislation to be made, either by a sitting Assembly and Executive or through an intervention by the NI Secretary of State.

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland’s department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said: “As this is a devolved issue for Northern Ireland, any decision to take forward similar legislation would be a matter for returning ministers and a local Assembly.

“If there is a requirement to progress legislation and ministers are not in place, senior officials will need to consider what steps can be taken in their absence, under the provisions of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2022 and the associated guidance on decision-making published by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.”