Statement – Response following Scottish Government’s decision to ban American Bully XLs

11 Jan 2024

Battersea is part of the Dog Control Coalition, which is made up of Battersea, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, RSPCA, Scottish SPCA, PDSA, The Kennel Club and USPCA.

As experts in animal welfare, we have provided the following statement in relation to the Scottish First Minister’s call for a ban on American Bully XLs.

We are concerned about the rise in dog related incidents and steps must be taken to protect the public, but we do not believe that banning any type or breed of dog will stop these types of incidents from occurring.

It's therefore deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government is following the same path as the UK Government. A complete overhaul of the existing dog control legislation is the only way to tackle the root causes of the tragic incidents we have seen in recent years. Both Governments must urgently take steps to deal with the unscrupulous breeders who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.

It’s 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 policy decision in Scotland, and its potential to prevent dog bite incidents. There is still no clear understanding of how many tens of thousands of dogs could be impacted by this ban across the UK.

We urge the Scottish Government to learn the lessons from the rushed implementation of the ban in England and Wales. It must make sure that there is a sufficient transition period, so that owners have the time and support needed to be able to exempt their dogs, and to ensure neutering capacity is available, and that the process is as clear and simple as possible for dog owners, vets and the rescue charities who will be left to pick up the pieces of this ill-considered legislation. It is also crucial that the teams responsible for enforcing this law have the resources and training they need before the ban begins to avoid any more dogs than absolutely necessary from being caught up in this.