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Coalition responds to PM’s announcement on a ban on XL Bullies

15 Sep 2023


The Dog Control Coalition, of which BVA is a member, has issued a statement following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's plans to urgently define and ban American XL Bully dogs.

Coalition responds to PM’s announcement on a ban on XL Bullies Image

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced urgent plans today to define and ban American XL Bully dogs following recent tragic incidents, terming them a “danger to our communities”.

His statement comes after the death of a man in Staffordshire yesterday, following an incident allegedly involving two XL Bullies, in a week that also saw an 11-year-old girl in Birmingham injured by the same breed type. These are the latest in a number of recent cases of dog aggression in which members of the public, or their pets, have sadly suffered injuries, or, in some tragic cases, died.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement, a spokesperson from the Dog Control Coalition, of which the British Veterinary Association is a member, said:

“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.”

Additional 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.

The Dog Control Coalition comprises Battersea, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, RSPCA, Scottish SPCA and Hope Rescue. 


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