At the moment, in the UK, there is a big debate surrounding the breed of dog known as XL Bully. These dogs are usually Pitbull crossed with other large dogs. Recently there has been a lot of news coverage surroundings these dogs and there are now reports that these dogs will be placed on the dangerous dogs list in the UK. But what will this mean for current XL Bully dogs and future XL bullies?

Current Law

Currently, there are four illegal dog breeds in the UK. These are the Pitbull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasilerio. However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that XL Bully dogs will be added to this list “by the end of the year”.

The law is set out in s.1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This section of the act states the following.

S.1(2) states that no person shall:

(a)breed, or breed from, a dog to which this section applies;

(b)sell or exchange such a dog or offer, advertise or expose such a dog for sale or exchange;

(c)make or offer to make a gift of such a dog or advertise or expose such a dog as a gift;

(d)allow such a dog of which he is the owner or of which he is for the time being in charge to be in a public place without being muzzled and kept on a lead; or

(e)abandon such a dog of which he is the owner or, being the owner or for the time being in charge of such a dog, allow it to stray.

If you do any of the 5 things above then you are liable for an offence and could face prosecution. If convicted you could face up to 6 months in custody.

What happens to current owners of XL Bullies when the law changes?

If XL Bullies are added to the list of dangerous dogs, then under s.5(1)(i) any constable has the right to seize the dog which is in a public place. Once seized it will be kept by the police. During this time when it is seized you will not be able to see your dog. If ultimately it is found that your dog is a dog that is contained in s.1 and is on the dangerous dogs list then the police may look to the court to make an order of destruction on the dog.

So, what can you do?

Under section 4B(2) you can oppose the order of destruction by going to court. The way you do this is by proving that the dog is not a danger to public safety.

There are two things that the court will consider when deciding whether or not the dog is a risk.

Firstly, they will look at the temperament of the dog and its past behaviour. Secondly, they will look at whether or not the owner of the dog is a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog.

These two things are essential for the court to decide whether or not your dog should be subject to a destruction order.

If successfully opposed, your dog will be placed on the index of exempted dogs. This means that your dog will be able to return home to you but with strict conditions attached.

These conditions will be as follows:

  • They must be kept on a lead and wear a muzzle in any public place (this includes a car as this is considered a public place);

  • Your dog must be neutered;

  • Your dog must be microchipped;

  • Your dog must be kept in a secure place so it cannot escape.

As an owner you must:

  • Take out insurance against your dog injuring other people;

  • Be over 16 years old;

  • Show a certificate of exemption when asked by a police officer, or council dog warden either at the time or within 5 days;

  • Keep the index of exempt dogs aware every time you change address;

  • Inform the index of exempt dogs if your dog passes away.

What we can do for you if the law changes

Here at Farleys, our criminal law experts would be able to come to court and represent you in countering the order of destruction. We would work with yourselves to formulate arguments to bring to the court’s attention.

Whilst at the moment there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the law regarding XL Bullies and what will happen if the law does change, we’re ready to help and assist with any questions you may have.

Contact the team today on 0845 287 0939, complete our online contact form or use the online chat below.