Statement - Response following Government update on American Bully XL Ban

01 Nov 2023

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

As experts in animal welfare we have provided the following statement in relation to the Government update on a ban of American Bully XLs.

“The Dog Control Coalition agrees that urgent action needs to be taken to protect the public from out-of-control dogs, but we are disappointed that the Government hasn’t taken the opportunity to completely overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act. With its continued focus on specific breeds, rather than a focus on prevention and implementation of tougher penalties for those owners not in control of their dogs, it is not fit for purpose.  
“After such a worrying few weeks for responsible owners of American Bully XLs, many will be relieved that the Government has confirmed they will be able to keep their dogs, subject to them being registered and following the rules on muzzling, neutering and insurance. However, we have serious concerns about the very short amount of time in which owners have to comply with the rules, especially as the Government is yet to release information on how owners can register their dogs.  
“We are also concerned about Defra’s definition of an American Bully XL type, which is not only hugely subjective and open to interpretation for the individuals enforcing this legislation - creating a lack of consistency across the country – but it also places a burden on owners to interpret the guidance and determine whether their dog is or is not an ‘American Bully XL type’. Government urgently needs to provide more clarity for owners on how to interpret this definition, so they can understand if it will affect them and their dog,   
“There is currently no clear understanding of how many tens of thousands of dogs could be fall within this breed specification, and we urge the Government to ensure that the teams responsible for enforcing this law - the police and local authorities - 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.  
“As a coalition of the country’s leading dog welfare and veterinary organisations we have only just seen the information published by Defra today and will take time to thoroughly review this, whilst continuing to support owners in any way we can, including offering support and advice. We will also continue to support those working in the animal welfare sector who care for American Bully XLs, and the vets who may find themselves asked to euthanise healthy dogs for no other reason than how they look.”