Support quality, independent, local journalism…that matters
From just £1 a month you can help fund our work – and use our website without adverts. Become a member today
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to ban American XL Bully dogs, which he described as a “danger to our communities, particularly our children”.
Mr Sunak made the announcement on Friday September 15, following yet another dog attack in the UK – in which a man was mauled to death by two dogs in Staffordshire.
It came just days after footage of an attack in Birmingham, in which an 11-year-old girl was seriously injured, went viral on social media.
In November 2021, ten-year-old Jack Lis died following a dog attack at a friend’s house on Pentwyn, Penyrheol.
In December 2022, grandmother Shirley Patrick, 83, was killed after being attacked by a dog on Heol Fawr, also in Penyrheol.
XL Bullies were involved in both deaths. However, the breed is currently not on the banned list as defined by the Dangerous Dogs Act, meaning it has been legal to own.
What is the Dangerous Dogs Act?
The 1991 Dangerous Dog Act is a set of laws that limits the public to what breed of dog they can and can’t own, as well as outlining their responsibilities as owners, in keeping control of potentially dangerous dogs.The list of prohibited dogs are:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
In 2014, an amendment was made to the act which extended it to cover private property. Prior to this, the Act was only applicable to public spaces.
The punishment for owning any of the previously mentioned breeds varies from a £1,000 fine to six months’ imprisonment.
If any dog was to be the direct cause of loss of life and showed signs of being a ‘dangerous dog’ before the attack, the owner of such a dog could face up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
On deciding whether a dog was potentially dangerous or not prior to an attack, the court is asked to assess the temperament of the dog and also the owner’s ability to control such a dog.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, between 2000 and 2019, a total of 64 people in England and Wales lost their lives as a result of an attack by a dog.
However, Caerphilly’s Labour MP Wayne David has made repeated calls for radical changes to dog laws in the UK.
“New laws will be in place by the end of the year”
Announcing his intention to ban the breed, the Prime Minister said: “It’s clear this is not about a handful of badly-trained dogs, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.
“While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public.
“Today I have tasked ministers to bring together police and experts to firstly define the breed of dog behind these attacks, with a view to then outlawing it.
“It is not currently a breed defined in law, so this vital first step must happen fast.”
Mr Sunak continued: “We will the ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act, and new laws will be in place by the end of the year.
“These dogs are dangerous. I want to reassure the public we’ll take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”
“We need proper action, and we need it quickly”
Following Mr Sunak’s announcement, Caerphilly MP Mr David said: “I first raised this issue with Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons in January of this year. He expressed sympathy, but did nothing.
“Only now is there some movement over nine months later. But we need proper ‘action’, and we need it quickly”.
Mr David has previously called for the reintroduction of some sort of licence for dog owners, which would be enforced by local authorities.
He has also called for a move beyond breed specific legislation.
What is breed specific legislation?
Breed Specific Legislation, which is part of the Dangerous Dogs Act, sees four breeds of dog, traditionally bred for fighting, banned in the UK.
However, campaigners from the Dog Control Coalition want to see this scrapped and replaced with a form of legislation that moves away from banning dogs based on their breed alone.
Earlier this week, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she was seeking “urgent advice” on banning the XL Bully breed. However, this drew criticism from Emma Whitfield, the mother of Jack Lis.
Ms Whitfield addressed MPs earlier this summer to call for radical changes to dog laws. She also spoke to members of the All-Party Dog Advisory Welfare Group in Westminster and has been a vocal campaigner on this issue.
From just £1 a month you can help fund our work – and use our website without adverts.
Become a member today