Following the announcement of the ban placed upon the XL Bully we urgently await clarification from the government of the proposed application process to exempt dogs. But based on the information we do have so far, we would urge anyone who believes their dog may fall under type to go through the exemption process once announced rather than risk their dog coming to attention later once the transition period is over. This will at least prevent your dog potentially being seized after that date and you being taken to court.
Due to the very vague guidelines, It is very likely that some crossbreeds, other large bull breeds, and the other American Bully varieties could score substantial characteristics, certainly on the breed standard put forward by the government (the suitability of this standard is very likely to be tested in court at a later date).
However, there is case law (Regina v Knightsbridge Crown Court, ex parte Dunne. Brock v Director of Public Prosecutions – Queen’s Bench Divisional Court (Lord Justice Glidewell and Mr Justice Cresswell), 2 July 1993} which determined (in relation to the Pit Bull Terrier type) that the word ‘type’ contained within Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act is wider than ‘breed’ meaning that a court could properly conclude that a dog was ‘of the type known as the pit bull terrier’ if its characteristics substantially conformed to the (ABDA) standard, or if the dog approximately amounted to, was near to, or had a substantial number of the characteristics of the pit bull terrier as set out in the (ABDA) standard. if the dog approximately amounted to, was near to, or if the dog had a substantial number of the characteristics of the (ADBA) standard.
The word type is used in relation to the new statutory instrument with regard to the XL Bully and we believe it is likely that the Courts will interpret this definition in the same way that they do for Pit Bull Terrier types.
A dog not exempted before the exemption application deadline is in danger of being seized and held in kennels for long periods pending court action, and its owner (or the person for the time being in control or charge of it) criminally charged.
It is important to note that the burden of proof is reversed in Dangerous Dogs Act cases and a dog seized as a prohibited type is presumed to be of that type unless the owner (or the person for the time being in control or charge of it ) can prove to the court that it is not, which in many cases involving cross or breeds not recognized by the UK Kennel is an extremely difficult task.
It is therefore our opinion that you exempt your dog when given the opportunity to do so as even those tasked with enforcing the ban are not yet trained to assess your dog and indicate if they would proceed against you once the transition period is over and we anticipate that the government will strongly urge enforcement immediately after the exemption deadline is reached.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO AND BY WHEN
31st December 2023
The ban takes effect and the offences in section 1(2) of the 1991 Act will apply in England and Wales in relation to dogs of the type known as the XL Bully IN ADDITION TO THE FOUR EXISTING BREEDS This means that from 31st December 2023 it will be an offence to:
- Breed, or breed from any dog with substantial characteristics of the type known as the XL Bully.
- Sell or exchange or offer, advertise or expose such a dog for sale or exchange;
- Make or offer to make a gift of such a dog or advertise or expose such a dog as a gift
- Allow such a dog of which they are the owner or of which they are for the time being in charge to be in a public place without being muzzled and kept on a lead.
A public place includes inside a vehicle if the vehicle is itself is in a public place and a muzzle should be sufficient to prevent the dog being able to bite a person. We recommend basket type muzzles which enable the dog to pant, drink and if necessary to be sick. There are currently NO circumstances in which it is acceptable to remove an exempt dogs muzzle when in a public place
- Abandon such a dog which they are the owner of, or the person for the time being in charge of, or allow it to stray.
31st January 2024
This is D DAY, the date by which you must have obtained exemption for your dog and a Certificate of Exemption been issued. We are still awaiting information from the government giving the procedure for applying and will update when they are announced, however we do know that
- The dog must have third party liability insurance (currently costing £25 via Dogs Trust membership (50 percent off for those over 60).
- The rules effective from 31st December 2023 must continue to be followed after the dog is exempted, any breach would lead to the dog becoming non exempt and liable to be seized.
There will be other conditions which we can confirm once the full exemption scheme is announced but please do not delay complying with what you are able to now and ensure that you follow the rules on the dates they commence.
The dog must be neutered, but there is not going to be a requirement for this to be done by 31st January 2024 and the deadline will depend on the age of the dog. If the dog is at least 1 year old on 31st January 2024 then it must be neutered by 30th June 2024, whereas if it is less than 1 year old on 31st January 2024 then you will have until 31st December 2024 to get it neutered. However, we urge you to arrange this as soon as you are able as vets have limited recovery spaces to accommodate large breeds so will have limited daily slots available and are likely to get extremely busy.
If an owner chooses to have their dog put down rather than go through the exemption process, the Government says in due course they will offer compensation of £200 per dog (or £100 if it is a rescue). No details have yet been provided for how this scheme will operate.