XL bully dog owners can register for exemption ahead of ban

Applications have opened for Britons to register their XL bully dogs for exemption before the breed is made illegal.

Owners who want to keep their dogs have to apply to an exemption scheme, or choose to have their dog euthanised and apply for compensation.

It will be illegal to own an XL bully from 1 February next year, unless the animal is on an exempt list, called the Index of Exempted Dogs.

They must be registered by the end of January.

Should the dogs be approved, owners will be forced to comply with strict requirements - such as dogs being muzzled and kept on a lead in public, as well as being microchipped and neutered.

Dogs more than a year old on 31 January must be neutered by the end of June. Those under 12 months old must be neutered by 31 December 2024.

Owners without a certificate of exemption will face a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they are found to be in possession of the breed as of 1 February, and their dog could be seized.

In September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared the breed a "danger to communities" after a man died in a "suspected" attack by two of the dogs in Stonnall, Staffordshire.

And a woman told Sky News that she wanted tighter laws on the dogs after her six-year-old son was attacked by her XL bully.

She warned the ban was not "fit for purpose" as it would not "protect the children that are at home with the dogs".

"Every dog owner in this country should have to have a licence, every dog should have to undergo some sort of training so that somebody other than the dog owner has witnessed that dog and seen the type of temperament they are," she added.

"I think there should be a lot more legislation in place."

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: "It is important that XL bully owners read the guidance and take all the necessary steps.

"This includes applying for a certificate of exemption if you want to keep your dog and ensuring they are muzzle trained by the end of the year, as your dog will need to be muzzled and on a lead in public after 31 December 2023.

"XL breeders should have also now stopped breeding their dogs and I would advise all owners to make an appointment with your vet to get your XL bully neutered as soon as possible."