Statement - Response following Prime Minister’s call to ban American Bully XLs

15 Sep 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 Prime Minister’s call for a ban on American Bully XLs.

“The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.

“The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public - but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.

“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working. The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.

“The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public. 

“It is also 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 decision and its potential to prevent dog bites.”

Further information:

  • Thirty years of this unworkable law means the focus on physical appearance rather than behaviour has resulted in many owned dogs being unnecessarily seized and kennelled while the rescue sector has had to destroy countless dogs despite being friendly dogs suitable for rehoming. This is devastating for a sector made up of people who want to improve dog welfare.
  • Identifying breeds accurately, especially the American bully XL, is difficult due to similarities with other breeds, which may unfairly affect well-behaved dogs based on looks. 
  • Sadly, the increased popularity of American bully XLs has made them valuable commodities, resulting in irresponsible breeding, rearing and ownership, which can all contribute to an increased likelihood of aggression in dogs, regardless of breed. Banning more types will not protect the public. The law must be updated to ensure full traceability across all dogs being bred and sold.
  • Legal bans of specific types can also have the impact of glamourising them to the very people in whose hands they are a problem, where they are trained for the purposes of aggression.
  • Whilst this is an urgent issue that needs tackling the solution is not banning more types. We need more effective enforcement and early interventions - which bring dogs and their owners to the attention of law enforcement earlier if there is concern about their behaviour before it escalates. We also need to tackle irresponsible breeders, work with people to prevent incidents from happening in addition to tough sentences to punish and deter those who use dogs to harm other people.
  • We have been contacted by distraught American Bully XL owners who are concerned about the lack of detail regarding the proposed ban, and what this will mean for them and their dogs.