With the announcement of the new legislation regarding XL Bullies, we know a lot of you will be concerned about what the new laws are and what they may mean for you. Unfortunately, there was no prior warning or information given to the veterinary industry as a whole as to what the legislation would entail before its release and so we are working our way through it today as you have been. However the core points seem to be these:
All dogs that resemble an “XL Bully” have been added to the dangerous dog list. A description of what would be described as an XL Bully can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog.
It is not the responsibility of the veterinary clinic to decide if your dog is an XL Bully, it is down to the local council and police to interpret this, however we cannot change what your pet is registered as on our database. The government advice is that if you think your dog could be considered an XL Bully then it is your responsibility to follow the laws that have been introduced.
UPDATE 14/11/23 (XL Bully Type)
The ban only applies to XL Bully dogs. There are other established breeds, such as those recognised by the UK Kennel Club, that may meet some of the characteristics of the XL Bully breed type. These are not within scope of the ban.
If your dog could be considered to be an XL Bully then the following rules will apply:
From the 31/12/23
It will be illegal to :
- Sell, abandon and give away an XL Bully
- Breed from an XL Bully
- Have an XL Bully in public without it being muzzled and on a lead
In addition to the rules above, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully without Certificate of Exemption.
A certificate of exemption is issued by the courts following an assessment by the courts to attest that your dog does not pose a risk to public safety.
- It will allow your dog to be added to an Index listing it as legal to own
- It will cost £92.40 and will last for a dog’s life
- The applications for this would need to be in by 31/1/24
- You will need to produce this on request from a member of the local council or police
- The dog will still need to be muzzled and on a lead in public
- And you will need to show you have 3rd party insurance cover for the dog (we recommend this cover for all dogs).
14/11/23 UPDATE (Third Party Cover)
The cover must start no later than 01/02/24, this can be provided by The Dogs Trust Membership. If you use a different insurance provider it should cover the policyholder for death or bodily injury to any person caused by the exempted dog and is suitable for a prohibited breed as defined under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
14/11/23 UPDATE (Certificate of Exemption)
Please follow the link below to apply for a certificate of exemption. This will take you to DEFRA’s website.
If keeping an XL Bully, they will need to be neutered regardless of their sex.
- If they are over a year of age on 31/1/24 this will need to be done by 30/6/24
- If they are under a year of age on 31/1/24 this will need to be done by 31/12/24
- A neutering certificate will be issued following surgery that you will need to keep as proof of neutering
- If your dog has already been neutered by us we will be able to provide you a certificate but DEFRA are yet to provide more information on these certificates
14/11/23 UPDATE (Neutering Certification)
Veterinary practices have been provided with information to assist with completing neutering declaration certificates (VCN01) for owners and are now accessible on the DEFRA website. This will support your application for a certificate of exemption.
- If they are over a year old on 31/1/24 , it must be neutered and your VCNO1 certificate must be received by 30/06/24
- If they are under a year of age on 31/01/24, it must be neutered and your VCNO1 certificate must be received by 31/12/24
If your dog is already neutered, as above, your vet will need to fill in a VCNO1 certificate:
- by 31 December 2024 for dogs less than one year old on 31 January 2024
- by 30 June 2024 for dogs more than one year old on 31 January 2024
If you chose to euthanise your dog due to these changes of legislation this can be done at your registered veterinary practice. Owners may be able to claim up to £200 to put towards the costs of euthanasia, but more information is to be released about this at a later date.
14/11/23 UPDATE (Euthanasia)
Forms are now available for those wanting the claim back compensation if they choose to euthanise your dog. This procedure must be carried out by 31/01/24 in order to qualify for compensation and the form must be received by 15/03/24. Payment should be made be made to the veterinary practice in full and claimed back to yourself.
Please follow the link below to apply for compensation for DEFRA:
To receive your compensation payment you must register with The Rural Payment Agency. It will take up to 30 days for payment to be made into your account.
Please follow the link below to register:
What to do if you find a stray dog that you believe to be an XL Bully?
Contact your local dog warden
Colchester Borough Council
01206 282581 (Monday – Friday 9-5pm)
So What Next…
This information is our interpretation of the changes to the law as of 1/11/23 and may change. We encourage people to read the full guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-for-the-ban-on-xl-bully-dogs and look for updates from the government as they appear.
We appreciate that is a lot of information to digest and will leave a lot of owners with some difficult decisions. If you have a dog that would be considered to be an XL Bully that you would like to keep, our advice at this stage would be to start muzzle training. There is a some good support on how to do this via :
- Blue Cross: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/dog/behaviour-and-training/dogs-and-muzzle-training
- Dogs Trust: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/dog-advice/training/outdoors/muzzle-training
- PDSA: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/pet-health-hub/other-veterinary-advice/how-to-muzzle-train-your-dog
- Alternatively our nursing team have a lot of experience in assisting owners with this and will happy to go through training options with you in a nurse consult
As to what you need to do to apply for a Certificate of Exemption, we are looking for clearer guidance on that ourselves and hope to be able to provide more information soon.
Finally, we would like to politely remind owners that these changes to the law are not the responsibility of our practice, our team or the veterinary profession as a whole. We share the British Veterinary Association’s view that, while urgent laws need to be put in place to protect the public, there needs to be a greater focus on penalising owners that are not in control of their dogs, rather than targeting specific breeds.
We are also concerned that the current description of an “XL Bully” is far too vague, leaving it open to interpretation and leaving many owners worried about whether their dog would count as an XL Bully. You can find more about the response from the Dog Control Coalition (including members of Battersea, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, Kennel Club, RSPCA, SSPCA and Hope Rescue) here: https://www.bva.co.uk/news-and-blog/news-article/dog-control-coalition-responds-to-details-of-the-government-s-ban-on-american-bully-xls/. As always, if you have any further questions please feel free to contact the team, although please be aware we will not be able to tell you if your dog would count as an XL Bully or not at this stage.