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XL bully safeguards: First phase comes into force in Scotland

The first phase of the Scottish government’s safeguards on XL bully dogs has come into force.

Holyrood is replicating regulations introduced by Westminster, which makes it a criminal offence to own an unlicensed XL bully dog without an exemption certificate.

From today, XL bully dogs in Scotland must be kept on a lead and muzzled when out in public. Selling, breeding, abandoning or giving the dogs away is also now illegal.

The rules were recently implemented in England and Wales following a spate of attacks in which people died or were injured by the breed.

The Scottish government said the regulations were being introduced north of the border after the UK government’s controls reportedly “created an unacceptable risk of dogs being moved to Scotland from England and Wales”.

The XL bully rules in Scotland

First stage (from 23 February):
•The dogs must now be kept on a lead and muzzled when out in public
• Selling, breeding, abandoning or giving the dogs away is now illegal

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Second stage (from 1 August):
• Owners will have to apply and pay a fee, yet to be confirmed, for their dog to be added to the exemption index – which will include having the pet microchipped and neutered

The Scottish government said full details of the exemption application process and the support available will be announced in the “coming weeks”.

Compensation will be payable to owners who no longer wish to keep their pet, including reimbursement for euthanasia.

Those that are convicted of breaching the rules could face up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

Image: A protest against the rules in London last year. Pic: PA

Community safety minister Siobhian Brown previously stressed that the new rules would be “safeguards rather than a ban”.

On Monday, Ms Brown said it was “vital” that XL bully owners get ready and prepare for their implementation.

‘He hasn’t really had the chance of a normal life like other dogs’

Soprano the XL bully dog. Pic: Lauren Ballantyne
Image: Soprano the XL bully dog. Pic: Lauren Ballantyne

XL bully owner Lauren Ballantyne, from Fife, previously told Sky News that responsible owners shouldn’t have an issue complying with the regulations.

However, the mum-of-two is opposed to a ban on dog breeds and instead believes irresponsible ownership and low-welfare breeding practices are to blame.

Ms Ballantyne – who owns XL bully puppy Soprano and French bulldog El Chapo – told Sky News that she has relied on her wages to prepare for the new rules.

Soprano the XL bully dog. Pic: Lauren Ballantyne
Image: Soprano and El Chapo. Pic: Lauren Ballantyne

She said Soprano has had no issues walking with a lead and harness, adding: “Soprano walks right by your side when another dog is passing – he doesn’t even bother. He’s so laid-back.”

Soprano, who is set to begin training next month, has also been microchipped and registered with a vet.

Ms Ballantyne said she understood XL bully dog owners had to comply with the government rules, but feels they are “unfair” on the breed.

Soprano the XL bully dog. Pic: Lauren Ballantyne
Image: Soprano sleeping alongside Ms Ballantyne’s son. Pic: Lauren Ballantyne

She said: “I’m glad Soprano is so young, but he hasn’t really had the chance of a normal life like other dogs – fetching sticks, playing with a ball (in a park) etc. It’s heartbreaking.

“He’ll be thinking ‘what have I done wrong and why are they getting to play’. It’s so unfair.”

Read more:
How experts predict XL bully ban will change things in 2024

Would you give one of these four ‘lovely’ XL bully-type dogs a home?

Despite the new rules, Ms Ballantyne said all those thinking about adopting a XL bully dog should not be deterred.

She said: “Don’t be put off by the rules. If you really want a XL and are willing to look after it, care for it and go by the rules, definitely do it.

“They are the biggest, cuddliest dogs ever.”

Sky News Source