There will be an “amnesty” ahead of a total ban on American XL Bullies, the government’s chief veterinary officer has said, as the breed was blamed for nearly half of all attacks on humans and other dogs.
Rishi Sunak announced on Friday that his government was seeking to define the XL Bully as a breed with the aim of banning them by the end of the year, after a father-of-two was mauled to death by two of the dogs while reportedly trying to protect his elderly mother.
It is the latest in a wave of attacks on dogs and humans, which days earlier saw a Bully-type dog attack an 11-year-old girl and two men in Birmingham.
While many have joined the growing chorus of calls for a ban, owners of Bully-type dogs have reacted with panic that their pets could be seized and killed.
Seeking to assuage these fears, chief veterinary officer Professor Christine Middlemiss has said there will not be a cull of the dogs.
“There will be an amnesty,” Prof Middlemiss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. So people that already have these dogs – and some of them will be well socialised, well managed, well trained – you will need to register and take certain actions.
“Your dog will need to be neutered. It will need to be muzzled when out in public and on a lead and insured.
“But if you comply with these actions, and that means we’ll know where these dogs are, which will be a massive benefit, then yes, absolutely you will be able to keep your dog.”
Her comments came as a 30-year-old man arrested in connection with the death of Ian Price – who died in hospital in Staffordshire after being mauled by two dogs – had been released on conditional bail, as police said their investigation “continues at pace”.
While groups including the RSPCA, Kennel Club and British Veterinarian Association have argued against a breed-specific ban, Labour’s shadow policing minister Alex Norris said on Saturday that he disagreed with the coalition of animal charities that a ban would not stop attacks.
“The data is there, we know the most recent fatalities, the majority of them have been due to this breed,” he told Times Radio. “So you know the evidence is there and is growing.
“I understand why they take the position that they take, they want to see good policymaking. We of course share that there is just a public safety issue here that cannot be ignored.”
The dogs have so far been linked to 43 per cent of 815 attacks logged by campaign group Bully Watch, founded in July, which has traced the heritage of around half of all breeding XL Bullies in the UK to one dog known as “Killer Kimbo”.
“The American bully is founded on American pit bull terrier, it was essentially started in the late 80s and early 90s by breeding fighting American pit bull terriers,” Dr Lawrence Newport, a legal academic behind Bully Watch told Times Radio.
“These are dogs that have one on one fight to the deaths with other dogs and they were then bred together. The claim was that they were then mixed with other kinds of large dog breeds like mastiffs, etc.
“What research from Bully Watch has shown is that actually if you trace their pedigrees, these dogs are just highly inbred fighting pit bulls.
“Indeed, a recent investigative work with Bully Watch and the Telegraph showed that 50 per cent of all American bullies in the country or breeding American bullies in the country, are linked to one single dog known as Killer Kimbo who is linked to multiple deaths, certainly his offspring are linked to multiple deaths, and Killer Kimbo is so inbred he has the same great grandfather four times over.”