American XL bullies: controversial dog breed 'to be banned by end of the year' after spate of dog attacks
This comes after a video of a young girl and two men being attacked by an XL bully cross in Birmingham went viral
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The American XL bully dog will be banned by the end of the year following a series of attacks, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman took aim at American XL bullies - a fairly new dog breed derived from pit bulls - earlier in the week, after a video of a young Birmingham girl being attacked by one of the dogs went viral over the weekend. Footage of the attack also showed two men who tried to help, one armed with a shovel, being attacked and injured by the dog.
A man has since been arrested on suspicion of owning a dog dangerously out of control. Another man was also arrested on suspicion of the same offence - and of manslaughter - after a man died from injuries sustained in a dog attack in Staffordshire on Thursday afternoon. Police believe both dogs involved were XL bullies - and as of Friday they are both dead.
In a statement posted on X - formerly known as Twitter - Sunak 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 a another suspected XL bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality," he wrote. “It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on."
Sunak said while owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, he wanted to reassure people "that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public".
“Today I have tasked ministers to bring together police and experts, to firstly define the breed of dog behind these attacks, with the view to then outlawing it. It is not currently a breed defined in law, so this vital first step must happen fast," he continued.
“We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year. These dogs are dangerous, I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”
American XL Bullies are overrepresented in dog attack statistics. Bullywatch - a UK group that tracks dog attacks by breed - reports so far this year, large bully-type dogs have been involved in 351 attacks, making up 43% of 2023's total dog attacks.
They have been responsible for 11 confirmed human deaths since 2021 - as well as having suspected involvement in three other deaths.
Bully Watch and two other campaign groups, the Campaign for Evidence Based Regulation of Dangerous Dogs (CEBRDD) and Protect Our Pets, welcomed the announcement in a joint statement, claiming the breed was a “a clear and present threat to public health”.
“Retrievers retrieve, pointers point. Fighting dogs fight. We have found this to our great cost," Lawrence Newport, of CEBRDD, said. “The importing of the American bully, a highly inbred Pitbull-type, led to skyrocketing deaths and attacks. This ban will finally allow the government and police to act, before another child or pet is ripped apart.”
However, an expert group including the RSPCA and the Kennel Club have warned that breed bans are not the most effective way to counter the issue, with the number of dog attacks rising since four breeds - including pit bulls - were banned in 1991.
A spokesperson from the Dog Control Coalition - which is made up of RSPCA, Blue Cross, Battersea, Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, Scottish SPCA, The Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association - told NationalWorld: “The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public - but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.
“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working. The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control," the statement said.
“The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public.
“It is also critical that any policy designed to protect public safety is based on robust evidence and we are deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites.”