XL Bully Dog owner becomes first to be prosecuted for illegally owning pet

XL Bully Dog owner becomes first to be prosecuted for illegally owning pet

Watch: Theo Chikomba's XL Bully report

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 02/04/2024

- 13:32

Police said the XL Bully owner warned officers it 'would attack anyone who approached it' - and now the dangerous dog is set to be destroyed

A dog owner has been sentenced for keeping "an XL Bully type dog" in breach of new legislation - in what marks a first-of-its-kind prosecution in the UK.

Patrick McKeown, 40, had kept the dog at a property in central Worthing, West Sussex - but had not taken appropriate action to protect his pet when new legislation was introduced in February.

Police had contacted McKeown over another matter, prompting him to tell authorities he had one of the banned breed at his address - where it was reported the dog had been seen loose in the back garden.

He warned officers that his dog "would attack anyone who approached it", a Sussex Police statement said, before police seized the XL Bully at his home.

XL Bully

It has been an offence to have an XL Bully without a lead or muzzle since February in England, Wales and Scotland (file photo)


Police also found McKeown had not applied for an exemption to the new XL Bully laws for his dog, had not had the animal spayed, nor had he taken out third-party insurance.

The 40-year-old later admitted to one count of possessing or having of a fighting dog, contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act at Worthing Magistrates' Court.

The court imposed a one-year community order, requiring him to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, alongside ordering McKeown to pay £85 in costs and a £114 surcharge.

The court also imposed an order to destroy the dog, pending an appeal.


XL Bully/Worthing

Patrick McKeown had kept the illegal breed at a property in Worthing, West Sussex


Sussex Police Chief Inspector Simon Starns, force lead for responding to dangerous dogs, said: "This was one of the first cases of its type to be prosecuted in Sussex.

"It demonstrates to the public that owners have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with the new laws which are now in force.

"We continue to work closely with partners to ensure dogs are kept safe through responsible ownership and to reduce the risk to the public.

"We continue to ask all dog owners to comply with Government guidance on the ownership of the XL Bully breed of dog.

"This includes ensuring that all XL Bully breed dogs are muzzled and kept on a lead held by someone aged over 16 when in public places."

Since February 1, it has been an offence to sell, abandon, give away, breed, or walk an unleashed and unmuzzled XL Bully dog in England and Wales, with Scotland imposing the same legislation on February 23.

Nearly 40,000 XL Bully dogs are thought to still be on Britain’s streets despite a ban on the breed being introduced - according to the banned breeds register, some 38,424 dogs were granted the £92 exemption to avoid being put down.

Estimates suggest there have been as many as 24 deaths linked to the breed since 2021.

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