Rishi Sunak shares nations horror at XL bully dog attacks
American XL bully dogs will be banned by the end of the year following a surge in vicious attacks, Rishi Sunak has promised.
The Prime Minister said he was horrified by recent incidents including the death of Ian Price, 52, and said the breed was a “danger to our communities”.
Announcing the move, Mr Sunak said he “shared the nation’s horror” at such attacks and they could not be allowed to continue.
A ban was already being looked at after shocking footage emerged of an attack in Birmingham last weekend that left an 11-year-old girl with serious injuries.
American XL bullies have been linked to the deaths of nine people, including three children, since 2021. Mr Sunak said he had ordered ministers to bring together police and experts to define the breed of dog behind these attacks so they can then be outlawed. He said: “The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children. I share the nation’s horror at the recent videos we’ve all seen.
“Yesterday we saw another suspected XL bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality. It’s clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs. It’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.
“I want to reassure people we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public.”
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Bully dogs are the largest version of the much better-known American pit bull terrier. Weighing up to nine stone bully XLs were bred for fighting other dogs in illegal bloodsports.
Pit bulls are banned in the UK under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act. First introduced to the UK in about 2014, the XL bully has soared in popularity. There are thought to be thousands of them.
Lord Baker, the architect of the Dangerous Dogs Act in the Sir John Major era, said American XL bully dogs should be “neutered or destroyed” once the ban has come into force, with any permitted to live being “muzzled for the entire time”.
The Tory peer told LBC said: “It should be done almost immediately because this is a very dangerous breed and it has killed children and attacked other people.
“I do not accept the views of the Kennel Club and the RSPCA that breeds should not be banned.
“This dog is, in fact, bred in order to fight and to be aggressive. It has already done enough damage and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to add it.” Three campaign groups issued a joint statement welcoming the UK Government’s announcement. Bully Watch, the Campaign for Evidence Based Regulation of Dangerous Dogs and Protect Our Pets claimed the XL bully breed was “a clear and present threat to public health”.
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Dr Lawrence Newport, of CEBRDD, said: “Retrievers retrieve, pointers point. Fighting dogs fight. We have found this to our great cost.
“This ban will finally allow the Government and police to act, before another child or pet is ripped apart.” Labour supported the ban. But Shadow environment secretary Steve Reed said: “Families will be furious it has taken this long for Rishi Sunak to finally act.”
The American XL bully dog type is not recognised as a specific breed by the Kennel Club, with Mr Sunak pledging that animal experts and police would work to “accurately define the breed of concern”.
There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK: the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro.
Animal charities, including the RSPCA and the Kennel Club, said banning American XL bully dogs would not stop attacks.
The Dog Control Coalition said: “For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites.
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“Recent deaths show this approach isn’t working. The Government must deal with unscrupulous breeders who put profit before welfare, and irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.” The group, which also includes the Dogs Trust and British Veterinary Association, said it was “deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites”.
Banned dogs can be taken by police or council dog warden, even if they are not acting dangerously and there has been no complaint, the Government website says.
Owners can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months for having a banned dog against the law. The dog could be destroyed unless a court thinks it is not a danger to the public,
It must be then be neutered, microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled when in public.
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