Thousands of XL Bullies to be exempt from being put down weeks before ban kicks in

18 December 2023, 07:01

XL Bullies are being banned by the government
XL Bullies are being banned by the government. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Thousands of XL Bully owners will be allowed to avoid putting their pet down next year, with two weeks to go before new bans come in.

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The "majority" of more than 4,000 applications to Defra for an exemption have been approved.

That is despite the government banning the breed as too dangerous after a spate of deadly attacks.

Owners will not be able to take their dogs out in public from December 31 unless they are muzzled and on a lead.

It will also be illegal to breed, sell or rehome them.

The dogs will then be totally banned from February 1 2024 unless an owner applies for an exemption before the end of January.

That allows them to keep their pet as long as they are willing to comply with strict conditions and get them neutered by the end of June unless they are younger than one, in which case they must get the operation done by the end of the year.

Otherwise, the dogs will need to be put down.

Read more: Shocking moment 'XL Bully dog' launches vicious attack on rail platform 'after owner loses control of her pet'

A Defra spokesperson told Sky News: "[The] majority of applications are successful and the majority of successful applicants are receiving their certificates in less than a week."

Owners who do not apply can ask for £200 towards the cost of euthanasia, though it has to be carried out before the end of January.

Dr Christine Middlemiss, the chief vet, said: "New legal restrictions for XL bullies are now less than a fortnight away.

"Owners should read the guidance and ensure they are ready to comply with the new rules, which includes keeping your XL bully dog muzzled and on a lead in public from 31 December.

Read more: 'It's driving strong emotions': Thérèse Coffey sent death threats over XL Bully ban

"From 1 February 2024, it will also be a criminal offence to be in possession of an XL bully in England and Wales unless you have applied for an exemption.

"Please do not risk leaving it to the last minute if you want to keep your dog, you should apply now for a certificate of exemption.

"We recommend a precautionary approach - if you are unsure if your dog is an XL bully or whether any puppies may grow up to be of this dog type, you should comply with the relevant requirements and restrictions."

The bans have devastated owners who insist their pets have a good temperament, while others fear it is too hard to tell if a dog is part of the breed.

But the government believes the animals are too dangerous after years of high-profile attacks that are reported to have killed at least 23 people since 2021.

Owners who keep dangerously out of control dogs can be jailed for up to 14 years.

Anyone who does not apply for an exemption certificate and keeps their dogs faces an unlimited fine.