Councils offer support to XL Bully dog owners as new government restrictions to be introduced from 31st December
Torridge and North Devon District Councils have begun working with XL Bully dog owners ahead of new restrictions for the breed, which the government will be introducing from the 31st of December 2023. The government have added the XL Bully to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 following a number of high profile attacks and fatalities involving the breed around the UK. From the 31st of December it will be against the law to sell, give away, breed, or abandon an XL Bully. However current owners may continue to own their dogs but will need to follow new rules, requiring them to have their dog on a lead and muzzled, while out and about in public. Early next year from the 1st of February it will also be illegal to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless owners have a certificate of exemption. The certificate will need to be applied for by the end of January and requires dogs to be neutered and micro chipped, have public liability insurance cover in place and carries a fee of £92.40 for the issue of the certificate.
Worried owners have already been in contact with both councils and officers are keen to emphasise that well managed dogs should not pose a threat to the general public. However, owners will be required to follow the new laws, which are similar to those already applied to other banned breeds. Following the new rules will allow existing owners to retain ownership of their dogs and give their pets a happy and healthy life, while meeting the legal requirements being imposed.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for owners will be muzzle training and officers have been keen to stress that the training needs to be positive throughout the whole process. Owners are being encouraged to start the training as early as possible to reduce any stress the dog might experience in the transition to the new arrangements. With this in mind it's important that the pace of the training and familiarisation is not too rushed and is delivered in a manner that is kind to the animals. As well as help and assistance from officers', owners are being signposted to resources being made available by charities and other organisations, including free webinars to help guide and reassure owners in how to muzzle train successfully.
Torridge District Councillor Philip Hackett - Lead Member for Public Health and Community Safety said:
"We're keen to help owners to manage the transition to the new rules and colleagues at both councils are ready to support people to supplement the information available online and through other partner organisations. We hope that this will allow the many well behaved dogs of this breed to continue to live healthy lives and that owners will discover that with a little planning it is not all that difficult to successfully meet the legal requirements."
North Devon District Councillor Ian Roome - Leader of North Devon Council says:
"The deadline for the introduction of the new laws and restrictions is fast approaching and as well as getting ready to register your dog leaving ample time for training with muzzles is also going to be important. Like all larger dogs they will need exercising to keep them healthy and happy so getting them used to the new equipment in a controlled and relaxed manner will be important in the lead up to the 31st of December. Examples of owners of other banned breeds successfully navigating rule changes will hopefully offer some encouragement."
Further information regarding the new laws can be found on the following websites:
- General information about the ban Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- How to obtain an exemption certificate Keeping an XL Bully dog
- How to identify an XL Bully breed dog Official definition of an XL Bully dog - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)