XL Bully owners caught 'hiding' their unregistered dogs could be jailed and pooches 'destroyed'

XL Bully owners caught 'hiding' their unregistered dogs could be jailed and pooches 'destroyed'

The deadline to register your XL Bullies has now passed

GB News
Ray Addison

By Ray Addison

Published: 01/02/2024

- 00:01

Updated: 01/02/2024

- 06:55

The deadline for owners to register their dogs passed on Wednesday midday

XL Bully owners caught "hiding away" their unregistered dogs face possible prison sentences while the animal could be seized and destroyed, police chiefs have warned.

Under new legislation, which came into force in England and Wales today, owners must have registered their American XL Bully with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and applied for a Certificate of Exemption.

The deadline to do that passed at midday on January 31.

However, the National Police Chiefs' Council says despite "a high level of compliance" only an estimated 40,000 dogs have been registered so far.

American XL Bullies

The deadline to register passed at midday January 31


That figure is well below the number of XL Bully dogs estimated by animal groups. The RSPCA says it could be as high as 50,000 or even 100,000.

NPCC Dangerous Dogs Lead Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hobrough told GB News that any owners with unregistered dogs are now "committing an absolute offence" regardless of whether they are being kept in a public or private place, "and that includes your house."

Those in possession of an unregistered dog can "expect to have a knock on the door" with police "executing warrants and seizing dogs to ensure that they are typed effectively".

"That can ultimately lead to these dogs being destroyed, dog owners going to court, and they could then end up facing fines, criminal convictions or even imprisonment."

Assistant Chief Constable Hobrough urged dog owners who believe they own an unregistered XL Bully to come forward and "show responsibility".

He also urged members of the public to be vigilant and report anyone who does not comply by calling 101, or 999 in the case of an attack.

Owners will then receive a visit from a neighbourhood policing officer.

That could be followed up by an investigation by a specially trained Dog Legislation Officer (DLO).


American XL Bully

Only an estimated 40,000 dogs have been registered so far (stock pic)


Currently, there are 137 DLOs across England and Wales, with at least one in all 43 forces. By September that number is expected to be just under 200.

Those dogs that are seized will be taken to police kennels before a court ultimately decides if it should be destroyed.

Convicted owners face a possible fine or imprisonment of up to six months.

The NPCC says some police forces are now looking to increase their kennelling space in anticipation of an influx of unregistered dogs, with some likely to ‘borrow’ space from nearby forces to meet demand.

The new laws were brought into place after serious dog attacks went up over the last five years.

Between 2001 and 2021 there were an average of three fatal dog attacks a year across all breeds. However, from 2021 to 2023, there were 23 in total.

Victims included 17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch and 10-year-old Jack Lis.

Assistant Chief Constable Hobrough described the escalation in fatal dog attacks as "incredibly high" and said in the wrong hands these "powerful dogs" can have "fatal consequences on some of the most vulnerable people in our society."

American XL Bully

Those dogs that are seized will be taken to police kennels before a court ultimately decides if it should be destroyed (stock pic)


"We’ve seen children and elderly people killed by these types of dogs. That is a tragedy… If we can do anything to stop these attacks happening that can only be a positive thing."

The Government amended The Dangerous Dogs Act at the end of last year, making it a criminal offence to sell, abandon, give away, or breed from the large bulldog-type dog.

Those who do have an exemption certificate must still keep their dog on a lead at all times in public and it must also wear a muzzle.

No one under the age of 16 is allowed to walk a Bully dog. It must also be neutered, and the owner should have third-party liability insurance.

When the ban was announced the government launched a compensation scheme for owners to have their dogs put down, with more than 150 claims received.

Currently, the new law only applies in England and Wales with Scotland and Northern Ireland’s devolved administrations responsible for their own legislation.

Assistant Chief Constable Hobrough admitted "there is a suggestion of dogs being moved to Scotland and Ireland’ as some owners look to avoid registration requirements."

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Patrick O’Hara says since September there has been a "notable increase" in the number of "stray XL Bully dogs" since the legislation was announced, with some owners choosing to "abandon" their dogs instead of registering for exemption.

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