Petition Bad owners are to blame not the breed - don't ban the XL bully


I believe that the XL bully is a kind, beautiful natured breed that loves children and people in general, and are very loyal and loving pets.

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An XL bully is a "Heinz 57", a mixture of different breeds, so if you ban them then this will have implications for cross breeds of dog because nobody can be sure on the breed specifics. They are all different sizes and shapes. Just because a dog is big and muscular doesn't mean it can be labelled an XL bully, it is unfair to do this.

It is also a well-known fact that how a dog acts is a reflection of the owner's actions. Bad owners should be punished, not the breed of dog – hold bad owners accountable.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 27 November 2023

Watch the petition 'Bad owners are to blame not the breed - don't ban the XL bully' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 23 November 2023

Following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully type dogs, the Government has added this breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

We recognise that some people are opposed to the Government’s decision to add the ‘XL Bully’ to the list of types of dog prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. However, the Government has a responsibility to maintain public safety.

XL Bully dogs are large, muscular animals which can be difficult to control due to their size and cause serious injury. We have seen an increase in dog attacks in recent years, including those causing injuries and fatalities, with the XL Bully being disproportionally involved in this rise. As a result, we have taken decisive action to add XL Bully breed types to the list of breeds prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. We firmly believe that this approach is needed to reduce the risks to the public from this type.

The Government has acted quickly to develop a definition for the XL Bully so the breed type can be banned in law. We convened a group of experts to define the physical characteristics of the breed type. This included representatives from the police, local authorities, devolved administrations and animal welfare experts. We believe the definition correctly captures dogs of this breed type. We recognise that there are other established breeds such as those recognised by the UK Kennel Club that may meet some of the characteristics of the XL Bully breed type. These are not within scope of the ban. This definition and guidance can be found on the government's website, here: Official definition of an XL Bully dog: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog

From 31 December 2023 all owners of XL Bully breed types must comply with strict conditions. Breeding, selling, exchanging, gifting, abandoning or allowing these dogs to stray will be banned. Owners will also be required to keep their dog on a lead and muzzled in public. We are encouraging all owners to start training their dogs to wear a muzzle and walk on a lead now, ahead of the restrictions coming into force on 31 December 2023.

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to be in possession of an XL Bully in England and Wales, unless owners have a Certificate of Exemption. Further details on how to apply will be provided in due course. Owners will need to adhere to strict rules including holding public liability insurance and for the dog to be microchipped and neutered. Dogs that are less than one year old on 31 January 2024, will need to be neutered by 31 December 2024. Dogs that are older than one year old on 31 January 2024, must be neutered by 30 June 2024. We recommend that owners arrange for their dogs to be neutered as soon as possible to meet these deadlines.

Alternatively, where owners do not wish to keep their dogs, they can choose to euthanise them. Government will pay a contribution of £200 towards the costs associated with euthanasia where this takes place before 1 February 2024. Further details on how to apply for compensation will be provided soon.

While the evidence of numerous attacks has meant that we have had to act to ban this particular breed type, we also recognise that responsible dog ownership is vital across all breeds of dog. Owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control are already breaking the law, and we already have a full range of powers to apply penalties to them. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, any dog that is dangerously out of control can be euthanised and their owners put in prison for up to 14 years and be banned from ever owning a dog.

We have been working hard with the police, local authorities and animal welfare groups to help prevent attacks by encouraging responsible dog ownership, to ensure dog control issues are addressed before they escalate and to make sure the full force of the law is applied.

As part of this work, we are also considering the role of education and training (for both dogs and their owners) in reducing the risk of dog attacks, as well as considering how we can improve data collection and recording and enforcement practices.

These steps address all aspects of tackling irresponsible dog ownership effectively, from prevention to robust, consistent enforcement, focussing on owners as well as on their dogs.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Government publishes statement on Dangerous Dogs

You previously received an email containing an incorrect link to a Government statement. Please accept our apologies for this. The correct statement is linked to in the below email.

On 18 September 2023, the Government published a statement on Dangerous Dogs. In the statement the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Dr Thérése Coffey MP, set out commitments to bring forward a ban on the XL Bully dog.

The Government stated that it intends to have the legislation in place to deliver the ban of XL Bully dogs by the end of the year and that it will convene experts to define the ‘American XL bully’ breed type. This group will include police, canine and veterinary experts, and animal welfare stakeholders.

The Government has also said that there is a need to safely manage the existing population of these dogs, and that there will therefore be a transition period, and further details on how this period will work will be provided ahead of legislation being introduced later this year. The Government has said that dog owners do not need to take any action at this stage.

The petition you have signed has received over 100,000 signatures, so will be considered for debate by the Petitions Committee. We will let you know if the Committee schedules a debate on this petition.

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Overdue Government response to petition chased by MPs

The Petitions Committee, the group of MPs who consider parliamentary petitions, has written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the overdue Government response to the petition you signed.

The Committee has asked for the response to be provided, and an explanation for the delay, by Thursday 23 November.

Government departments are meant to submit responses to petitions within 21 days. A response to this petition was first requested by the Committee on 15 September 2023, but the Government has not yet responded.

Because the response to this petition is well over a month late, the Committee has written to the Government asking them to explain the delay, and to provide their response to this petition.

We will share the Government's explanation for the delay, and their response, with you when we receive this.

What has the Government announced?

While the Government has not yet responded to the petition you signed, it has announced plans to ban XL Bully type dogs, and set out the rules that will apply to these dogs.

Under the new rules, which will come into force on 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow XL Bully dogs to stray in England and Wales. From this date, these dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public. From 1 February 2024 it will then become illegal to own an XL Bully dog if it is not registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs.

You can find out more about the Government's plans and the new rules on the Government's website:

Minister responds to request for explanation for delay in responding to petition

Last November the Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about the overdue Government response to this petition. The Committee asked for the response to be provided, and an explanation for the delay in providing this.

The Government has now responded to this petition, and the Minister for Biodiversity, Animal Health and Welfare has explained that Defra has been responding to large volumes of e-petitions and correspondence. The Minister has said that the department continues to review its processes and endeavours to provide on-time responses to e-petitions.

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