News from AMTRA

XL bully type dogs banned

XL bully type dogs are to be banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act from 31st December.

The RCVS has issued guidance following announcement of the Ban:

Following a recent rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully dogs, the Government has recently added this breed to the list of dogs banned in England and Wales* under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.  To support these changes, the Government will require owners of XL Bully dogs in England Wales either to apply for a Certificate of Exemption, or to arrange for their dog to be euthanised by an RCVS-registered veterinary surgeon.

Estimates for the number of XL Bully dogs nationwide vary widely. It is expected that this ban will have a potentially significant impact on veterinary teams in some areas.

Summary of the ban

Full details of the ban are available on the Defra website and there is additional official guidance for vets but, in summary, the changes will come into force in two stages.

Stage 1

From 31 December 2023, in England and Wales it will be against the law to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog or let it stray
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle

Stage 2

From 1 February 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless it has a Certificate of Exemption.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

The Scottish Government has told the RCVS that such a ban will not be introduced in Scotland on the timings set for England and Wales, and that it will continue to assess relevant evidence in this area for Scotland.

The RCVS is awaiting a response from the Northern Ireland Executive regarding its intentions.

There is no obligation in the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for a veterinary surgeon to euthanise a healthy animal. However, the owner’s wishes and circumstances should also always be taken into account, particularly if public safety and/or the animal’s welfare could be compromised should the request be refused.

This legislative change is likely to present vet teams with challenging circumstances and difficult decisions.