Vets have faced ‘abuse and threats’ from XL bully owners over dog breed ban, says industry chief

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Vets have been on the receiving end of 'threats and abuse' since the XL bully ban came into force in February, according to an industry chief

Vets have faced “abuse and threats” from XL Bully owners over the dog breed’s ban, the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has said.

Anna Judson said the speed of the ban had created a “very emotionally charged atmosphere” and some “really challenging situations”. She added that the BVA was “very concerned” that the ban was a “short-term fix to a much larger problem” and there was a risk of “transferring the problems to another breed in future”.

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Judson told Clare Balding on Channel 4’s coverage of Crufts that the association was not consulted over the ban and that “it came as quite a surprise”.

The BVA is calling for an overhaul of dangerous dogs legislation with a “much stronger focus on responsible dog breeding and responsible dog ownership," Judson said. She added: “One of our concerns at the British Veterinary Association is the speed at which the ban was introduced.

“It’s created some really challenging situations, it’s put the vets, the rescue charities and the XL bully owners into some very stressful situations. And with that came a very emotionally charged atmosphere and, unfortunately, that has spilt over to some abuse and threats of veterinary teams and vets.

Vets have faced ‘abuse and threats’ from XL bully owners over dog breed ban, according to an industry chief. Stock image by Adobe Photos.Vets have faced ‘abuse and threats’ from XL bully owners over dog breed ban, according to an industry chief. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
Vets have faced ‘abuse and threats’ from XL bully owners over dog breed ban, according to an industry chief. Stock image by Adobe Photos. | otsphoto - stock.adobe.com

“So, one of the things we would respectfully ask is that people are just mindful, even if they’re feeling stressed, of how their actions and words come across. And to be kind and courteous to the vet teams, particularly as we come up to these neutering deadlines.”

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From Thursday February 1, it became a criminal offence to own the XL bully breed in England and Wales without an exemption certificate. Owners who do not have a certificate for their dogs can face fines, prosecution and having their pet confiscated.

To qualify for an exemption certificate, most owners must prove their XL bully has been neutered by Sunday June 30. Owners of dogs under a year old have a longer deadline until Tuesday December 31 to prove their pet has been neutered.

In Scotland, the first part of restrictions on XL bully-type dogs came into force on Friday February 23.

Judson said: “We would really strongly urge that XL bully owners get in touch with their vets. And work with them in partnership to make sure that we can stagger the numbers going through the neutering process so we don’t end up with a bottleneck and some capacity issues which will just heighten everybody’s emotional state again.”

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