Petition Delay the ban on rehoming and owning XL Bully dogs for 18 months

XL Bully dogs cannot be rehomed after 31/12/23, and will be illegal to own without an exemption certificate from 1/2/24. As a result many Bully dogs are being abandoned or placed in rescue. We want more time for owners to rehome or get exemptions, to avoid dogs being euthanised unnecessarily.

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The dogs in rescue are not there through choice. They are there due to abusive owners or neglectful owners, or because the implications of the ban have forced people to choose between their home and their beloved dog. These dogs do not deserve to die and these dogs do not deserve to live out the last 2 months of their lives in kennels. If you extend the amnesty period for them 18 months they may be able to get exemption certificates and find forever homes. They are sentient beings.

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Government responded

This response was given on 6 February 2024

Following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully type dogs, the Government has acted decisively to ban this breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

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. That is why 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 by this type.

The ban on XL Bully breed types has come into force in two stages, to help current owners adapt to the new laws.

Since 31 December 2023, all owners of XL Bully breed types must comply with strict conditions. This includes ensuring they put their dog on a lead and muzzle in public. Breeding, selling, exchanging, gifting, abandoning, or allowing these dogs to stray is now banned.

Since 1 February 2024 it has become a criminal offence to be in possession of an XL Bully in England and Wales unless the dog is covered by a Certificate of Exemption. Owners who have a certificate of exemption need to adhere to strict rules for the life of a dog, including holding valid third-party public liability insurance, and for the dog to be microchipped and neutered by a certain date.

We have provided an extended period for owners to have their dogs 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. Further guidance on neutering is available on GOV.UK (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/confirm-an-xl-bully-dog-has-been-neutered).

Furthermore, we introduced an additional exemption scheme that allowed established rescue and rehoming organisations to apply for a Certificate of Exemption for any dogs that they held on or before 30 December 2023. This means that they can continue to keep these dogs once the ban comes into force on the 1 February 2024.

We consider that this staged approach has given owners and organisations sufficient time to prepare and so we do not intend to delay the ban.

The Government has acted quickly to develop and implement the ban on XL Bully type dogs to reduce the risks to the public by this dog type. We have carefully balanced this against the need to give existing owners and keepers sufficient time to comply with the new restrictions such as training their dogs to use a muzzle and applying for an exemption to keep their dog. It is for this reason that the restrictions have come into force at different points giving owners an extended period of time in which to meet the conditions. We have no plans to delay the ban by 18 months.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/650474)

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At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) has considered the Government’s response to this petition. They felt that the response explains the Government’s policy on banning XL Bully type dogs, but does not respond directly to the request of the petition, for the Government to delay the ban on rehoming and owning XL Bully dogs for 18 months and have therefore asked the Government to provide a revised response.

When the Committee receives a revised response from the Government, we will publish this and share it with you.

Original Government response

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 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. That is why 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 by this type.

We understand that many people are opposed to the ban, but the Government needs to balance those views against our responsibility to ensure that the public is properly protected from dog attacks.
The ban on XL Bully breed types will come into force in two stages, to help current owners adapt to the new laws.

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 for a Certificate of Exemption can be found here: Apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep an XL Bully dog - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Owners https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-certificate-of-exemption-to-keep-an-xl-bully-dog or keepers will need to adhere to strict rules including holding public liability insurance and for the dog to be microchipped and neutered by a certain date.

We have provided an extended period for owners to have their dogs 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. Further guidance on neutering is available on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/confirm-an-xl-bully-dog-has-been-neutered.

Alternatively, owners can choose to euthanise their dog by 1 February 2024 if they do not wish to keep them. Details of how to apply for compensation can be found on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/claim-compensation-for-an-xl-bully-dog.

Furthermore, rescue and rehoming organisations now also have the option to apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep XL Bullies that they held on the 31 October 2023. This will allow them to keep these dogs for the duration of their lives, subject to meeting certain conditions, such as that the dogs are microchipped and neutered by certain dates. Applications will open on the 31 December 2023 and details of how to apply will be provided on gov.uk.

This response was given on 2 January 2024. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

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