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  • Writer's pictureCanine Consultant - Emma


Updated: Sep 24, 2023

If you own an XL Bully, a big chonky bull x, a Cane Corso, a Presa Canario, a Rottweiler mix... if you own ANY big chunky fatheaded bull breed mix... PLEASE read this, pass to friends, print it out, I don't care... just share it. The UK is about to ban XL Bullies/American XL Bullies - however these have no breed standard and no set definition on measurements/weights/proportions - so exactly HOW the UK Government is going to define what is or is not an illegal dog is anyones guess. What you can do RIGHT NOW to keep your dog safe, and keep yourself and everyone else safe, is as follows: Recognise that 'love is not enough' - I know you love your dogs, they're family, I feel exactly the same way about my dogs. But loving them, feeling as if you know them inside and out, having good intentions - it isn't enough. Being realistic, a big, heavy dog with a big jaw is always more capable of doing damage than a teeny tiny dog. Although you may have had your dog from a puppy, a puppy is not a blank slate and your dog may have inherited genetics, or learned things that affect how they react long before you took them in. NEUTER - get that done now if they're old enough. ASAP. Better it is done by your vet and in your care than elsewhere and if your dog is seized and held in kennels, passes temperament tests and is exempted, they WILL be neutered anyway. MUZZLE TRAIN - get an appropriate muzzle, a basket style, solid muzzle NOT a fabric 'strap the mouth closed' muzzle as this latter type are dangerous for anything other than a brief veterinary exam. Teach your dog that wearing this face-cage is fun, associate it with treats and praise, really work on this, do not just slap it on your dog as that will worry them and cause them to strop around on the lead trying to get it off. USE A LEASH - walk your dog on a lead, only let your dog off in secure private hire fields or your own property. It sucks, I know this, you know this but lets not leave ANY room for error here, it could cost your dog their life. Please use a fixed length lead, not a flexi lead - flexi leads are far more likely to snap! MICROCHIP - your dog should already BE microchipped - check the chip is there, check it holds the correct data for you. If your dog is for some reason not chipped or the chip has moved or failed, chip your dog. INSURE YOUR DOG - do this today. Stop reading this, do it, come back to read the rest. Insure so that your dog has public liability insurance. You can get free public liability insurance if you join the Dogs Trust as a member. *NEW INFO* - When you get your dog neutered, ensure you have proof of this from your vet linking your dogs chip number to the neuter procedure both on their system and as a letter you can keep on file. If you take up the Dogs Trust membership, again, send proof your dogs chip number and ask them to write back confirming that the insurance covers this specific dog, so you have that on file should anyone ask. Above all - be an ambassador for your breed. Don't put your dog in situations he or she will find difficult, do not ask them to be a super-dog and tolerate things they can't cope with. Don't take unnecessary risks, no matter how much you want to prove a point. Be pro-active and responsible and be seen to be pro-active and responsible! UPDATE: 24/09/23 - WHAT MAY HAPPEN - (I am not a lawyer this does not consitute legal advice!) Owner-led addition to the exempt dog register: If this is the route government take (and it is the cheapest and most practical, and the route taken in the 1991 Pitbull type ban), the onus will be on owners to come forward and have dogs assessed and if necessary (if deemed 'type') added to the register. You may not think your dog is an XL Bully - please be aware that what you believe your dog to be is not relevant here. What will matter is what the government define as an 'XL Bully type'. Definition will be by measurement, proportions, and possibly comparison to breed standards for similar, recognised breeds. DNA will almost certainly not be involved, nor will pedigree paperwork from any registry. This means you could have for example: Cane Corso/Labrador/Rottweiler mix, or a Mastiff/Staffy/American Bulldog mix... and this could still be deemed 'XL Bully type' and still be covered by the ban. You may have been sold your puppy as some other breed name, or crossbreed, again this will not matter. The likelyhood is that if owners do not come forward within the time frame set (yet to be announced), then dogs discovered to be or suspected to be 'type' will be seized and held, and owners will have to go to court. This court case may look at not just whether your dog is 'type', but whether your dog is in fact dangerous, and whether you are an appropriate person to own your dog! This may mean your dog spends months kennelled in less than optimum conditions, and it increases the risk of you losing your dog. If you are in any doubt, please speak to the legal organisations and support organisations listed at the end of this piece before making any decisions. Registered keepers:

Currently, exempt 'type' dogs are registered to 1 person. That person must fulfill certain conditions and criteria. Importantly, it is extremely difficult to change the registered keeper of an exempt dog, involving a court decision on both the dog AND the proposed new keeper. The registered keeper or owner named on an exemption certificate cannot leave the dog in the care of someone else for more than 30 days in a year. This will mean a registered keeper cannot be someone who works away from home, who is hospitalised for more than 30 days in total, in prison, away for education etc. Think VERY carefully when applying for your dogs exemption certificate, as to who will be the named owner/keeper! Breach of exemption certificate conditions means a dog is considered prohibited once again, and is at risk of a destruction order or another trip through the court system to be re-certified as exempt, and there are no guarantees a previously exempt dog will be certified a second time. What if the police/local authority try to see or take my dog? *the following is based on current information and may change*

Stay calm - getting angry or defensive won't help your dog. If your dog is calm around visitors, pop the muzzle and lead on, and then allow them in, you can ask reasonable things like for them to take off hats or come into a room and sit down before you bring the dog in on a lead. If you're calm and polite, they are much more likely to listen to you. Within reason, you can ask that they meet your dog the way you deem safest - always on a lead and muzzled, but that may be you bringing your dog out to see them, or them coming in and sitting down and you bringing the dog in. If your dog is wary or fearful of certain people - men, people in hats, people in uniforms are all common! It is fine to say 'My dog is worried by [whatever] , please let me handle him' or similar, this shows you are aware of how your dog feels and are pro-active about avoiding incidents. Refusing to let someone see your dog is not going to stop your dog being seized, if that's what is going to happen. Squash your natural instinct to refuse or kick off... it's not easy, but it is vital you do. Kicking off and trying to refuse will just mean this is a horribly stressful experience for your dog. Have to hand any useful information about your dog - breeder, paperwork, vaccination records, training classes or courses - they may not want it, but having proof you are a responsible dog owner is a good start. If they DO want to seize your dog - do NOT sign your dog over. You may be told that if you do NOT sign your dog over, you could be found guilty of owning an illegal breed, which can carry a prison sentence. This will not happen unless your dog has already been involved in an incident/complaint and even then, is highly unlikely. Tell them 'you are seizing my dog without my consent' and do NOT sign anything. Letting them seize and take your dog is not the same as signing the dog over! If you sign, you are handing ownership to the police and your dog *will* be euthanised. If they seize your dog without your consent, they have to kennel your dog, assess them, and then there is a chance you can go to court and apply to have your dog exempted and added to a register. If you can put your dog in their van yourself, please do so, this is far less stressful than a stranger taking your dog from your home. We are currently hoping that there will be some 'grace' period whereby responsibly owned dogs with no prior bite history or complaints against them, will be permitted to stay in their own homes whilst they await assessment or whatever is required to add them to an exemption register. Things to consider... I absolutely HATE having to say this and I realise this is going to get me a lot of hate but - if this goes down like the original DDA pitbull ban did, there are going to be a lot of dogs kennelled for long periods and then euthanised anyway. IF exemptions are possible, they will mean your dog has to be on a lead in public, muzzled in public (and 'public' may mean your front garden and in your car too, not just out and about), neutered, insured with a specific insurance company (third party only, and it appears impossible to get illness/injury cover for dogs determined to be an illegal breed). You will almost certainly need to not have a criminal record (particularly for drugs or violent offences), be over 18, and crucially - your dog will need to have a bombproof temperament and be pretty well trained. Please be honest with yourself, if you can't meet your dogs needs under the above criteria - if your dogs behaviour and temperament are NOT bombproof - if you think theres a reason in your past that a court will NOT grant you keepership of an exempted dog - then fighting to keep your dog may simply result in your dog suffering in kennels for months on end with no chance of a positive outcome. Also keep in mind, there is a good chance that if your dog injures someone whilst in the care of the local authority/police, you MAY be held liable for that! Please consider it may be better to euthanise your dog at home, with a familiar vet, calmly, than to put them through months of confusion and torture only to be euthanised by a stranger in the end. I love all dogs, I don't want dogs euthanised at all, and the very idea of NOT fighting for my dogs life is horrific - but if you love your dog, you have to consider what is best for them. For many dogs, being put through the kennelling and assessment procedure and waiting months for court dates is not in their best interest. Please seek advice from those with experience of the process, and the law as it currently stands before taking any action! USEFUL RESOURCES: Dog Law Specialists: Trevor Cooper Wheldon Law Elliot Mather Muzzles and Muzzle training: - shop and also training videos here! - XL Bully suitable muzzles for the bigger guys and gals - US store but ships to the UK. Information: ©Emma Judson 2023 - Free to share in full, anywhere.

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