Owners of American XL Bully dogs will not face having their pets euthanized, Britain’s top veterinarian has said, after the Prime Minister vowed to ban the breed.
Campaign groups welcomed Rishi Sunak’s promise to ban the dogs by the end of the year after a series of attacks led to calls for the breed to be added to the Dangerous Dogs Act list.
However, questions remain about exactly how a ban should be implemented and enforced, and concerns remain about the challenge of defining the dog breed given its cross-breeding nature.
Chief Veterinary Officer Professor Christine Middlemiss said reaching “consensus” on that definition was one of the first things officials would do.
She also confirmed on BBC Radio 4’s Today program that an “amnesty” approach would mean the dogs would not be killed.
“There will be an amnesty. People who already have these dogs – and some of them will be well socialized, well managed and well trained – need to register and take certain actions.”
“Your dog needs to be neutered. He must be muzzled, on a leash and insured in public.”
“But if you stick to these measures and that means we know where these dogs are, which will be a huge benefit, then you can definitely keep your dog.”
Such an approach would be similar to that taken in the 1990s when pit bulls were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
The ban comes after a man died in Staffordshire on Thursday after being attacked by two dogs believed to be Bully-XL.
Mr Sunak promised in a video on social media that the government would “ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and bring in new laws by the end of the year.”
“These dogs are dangerous. I would like to assure the public that we will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of people,” he said.
He also said he had instructed ministers to bring together police and experts to define the breed of dogs behind these attacks so they could be outlawed.
Prof Middlemiss said: “We will work with veterinary experts, dog experts, the police and other authorities who have dealt with these dogs, as well as our animal welfare NGOs, so that we can come to a consensus on the type of dogs we have have seen and feel the same way.” these attacks and a corresponding definition of race.
“And that will be one of the first pieces of work we need to move forward with.”
The decision was welcomed by campaigners, but other groups – including the RSPCA and the Kennel Club – said a ban on American XL bully dogs would not stop the attacks.
Lord Baker, the architect of the law during the Sir John Major era, said that American XL Bully dogs should be “neutered or destroyed” once the ban came into effect and that all dogs allowed to live , would have to “wear a muzzle all the time.”
Speaking to LBC, the Tory peer said: “This should happen almost immediately as this is a very dangerous breed that has actually killed children and attacked other people and I accept the views of the Kennel Club and the RSPCA that “breeds, not.” should not be banned.
“This dog was actually bred to fight and be aggressive. He has already done enough damage and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to add to that.”
While Labor supported the ban, they criticized the Prime Minister for being “hesitant” to introduce restrictions on their ownership.
Sir Keir Starmer told broadcasters: “There have long been clear arguments for banning them. What I’m saying to the government is good, get on with it and the sooner we can do that the better.”
Supporters of the ban have rejected suggestions that the decision was made despite a lack of data and evidence.
The legal scholar Dr. Lawrence Newport told Times Radio: “We actually know bans work because we’ve had one against pit bulls since 1991.”
“This ban was very successful. And we know this because, for example, we have half as many dog deaths per capita in the UK as we do in the US, and that difference is entirely due to pit bulls.”