A defiant Bully XL owner today told how she feels “targeted” over her choice of pet as calls mount for the breed to be banned.
Sophie Coulthard, 39, who has a one-year-old dog called Billy, said “a moral panic” had arisen around the mutts following several high-profile attacks on youngsters.
And she warned against “knee-jerk” changes to the law banning the breed – saying irresponsible owners should be at the forefront of new legislation rather than mutts.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has pushed to outlaw Bully XLs after Ana Paun, 11, was viciously mauled on the arm by one in Birmingham.
Horrific video showed the moment when the school girl with bitten by a violent animal before two men tried to restrain it and also received terrible injuries.
But Sophie said her XL Bully loved “cuddles” and said those using the dogs for “status” and “protection” would just find another breed if they were banned.
She said: “I genuinely believed this is being turned into a moral panic.
“Certain let’s say retired dog experts have been using this language – ‘devil dogs’, ‘franken-bully’ and ‘tiger on a lead’.
“All that is doing is scaring the general public into putting pressure into a knee-jerk reaction.
“You are going to have responsible owners like me who are unfairly targeted for the type of dog that I have, while dog attacks across all breeds are up at the moment.”
She added: “If we’ve learned anything from the Dangerous Dog Act, it’s that banning by type doesn’t work.
“The people who are breeding irresponsibly and owning irresponsibly will just move onto another breed.”
Sophie said she decided to get an XL Bully dog after seeking a dog that was both capable of going on hikes and could live in her London apartment.
She felt the US breed, which is a mixture of the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and English Bulldog, would suit her lifestyle perfectly.
Sophie, who films videos about her dog on her TikTok profile ‘Training Billy the Bully’, said he’d never growled but she had worked hard to set boundaries for him.
She didn’t recognise the characterisation of XL bullies as naturally violent animals, adding that her pooch was the ideal “family companion”.
She said: “We looked at a Staffordshire Bull Terrie originally, but they tend to have quite little legs.
“Then we ran into someone with an American bully, and thought ‘This is like a Staff but slightly bigger’.
“Billy is your classic couch potato. If I take him to the park he loves to run around, but he’s always on a lead. He loves to play. He’s like any kind of happy-go-lucky dog.
“He’s massively affectionate. He will literally lie on his back and demand that you stroke him all day, he’s really soft.
“He is exactly what we wanted, which is a family companion dog. He has never growled or ever shown even a hint of aggression.
“But I’ve always been conscious of teaching him ‘impulse control’ and putting things in place to make sure he has a happy life, but with boundaries.”
Sophie said she’d felt “stressed” following calls to outlaw the breed, and said it was important that new legislation was drafted that introduced licences for owners.
She went on: “The government is legislating against the dog.
“But actually if we have a dog register and dog and breeding licensing people would think twice before thinking of getting a dog in the first place.
“That’s not to say that irresponsible people have got their hands on them and realised there’s money to be made in a status dog and a protection dog.”
Britain’s leading dog bite solicitor, James McNally, backed up Sophie’s suggestion, saying a ban on XL bully dogs wouldn’t stop attacks from taking place.
Instead, he said the widespread problems with dangerous dogs in Britain go “much deeper” than a single breed.
He said: “For the last 30 years lawmakers have been struggling to enforce poorly thought-through legislation. The last thing we need is more of the same.
“Banning XL Bullys isn’t going to stop dog attacks.
“It will get the headlines, but it won’t stop the problems as they go much deeper than just one particular type of dog.”
“If they are banned, they aren’t just going to disappear overnight, and I suspect all that will happen is a new type of dog will be bred which gets round the ban.”