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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
18 January 2024
Siobhian Brown confirms new safeguards for ownership of XL Bully dogs

It will become illegal to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales on 31 January | Alamy

Siobhian Brown confirms new safeguards for ownership of XL Bully dogs

Siobhian Brown has confirmed the new safeguards in relation to ownership of XL Bully dogs.  

While the community safety minister said the Scottish Government is not moving away from its previous approach of “deed not breed”, which promotes responsible dog ownership and is opposed to breed-specific legislation, she said “these are exceptional circumstances” and that “it is right and proper that we replicate the controls south of the border”.  

The controls on XL Bully dogs come into full effect in England and Wales on 31 January, but it is still to be confirmed when the safeguarding measures will come into force in Scotland.  

The new regulations will come into effect in two stages.  

Initially, it will become an offence to sell, abandon, allow to stray, give away, allow an XL Bully to breed, or walk them in public without a muzzle and a lead. They are also required to be microchipped and neutered.  

The second stage is the deadline to apply for an XL Bully to be on the exemption index. Past that deadline it will be illegal to own an XL Bully if the owner does not have an exemption certificate or have applied for one.  

Brown added that there will be cost to register an XL Bully on the exemption index, although that has not yet been determined. The equivalent to do so in England and Wales is £92.40.

She also confirmed that there will be a compensation fee if owners decide to give up their animal.  

Brown said that Scottish owners now need to decide whether to keep their dog and stressed that these regulations should not be considered as a ban of XL Bully dogs.  

Conservative MSP Russell Findlay criticised the Scottish Government for not moving as quickly as England and Wales and described the measures as a “ban”.

He said: “The SNP chose to reject the measures. We know that seeking divergence gets these people [SNP ministers] out of bed in the morning, but putting petty nationalist point scoring above public safety surely marks a new low.”

Brown responded by saying they didn’t “dither or delay”, writing first to the UK Government on the issue in November, informing it “that they would not be following the same timescale”.  

She said: “The Scottish Government was engaging with dog control key interests to help assess the principal of introducing new safeguards on XL Bully dogs.  

Brown added: “Now that the UK Government has been unable to provide a definite statement on whether the new controls on selling XL Bully dogs apply to dog owners in England and Wales who seek to sell their dogs outside of England and Wales that has changed our consideration.”

Earlier, at FMQs, Scottish Labour's Anas Sarwar urged First Minister Humza Yousaf to take a broader approach to the issue of dangerous dogs.

Highlighting a commitment from the Scottish Government to review its legislation in response to a Scottish Parliament inquiry in 2019, Sarwar called for action against "irresponsible owners and breeders", not just "individual breeds".

Regarding the XL Bully ban, he accused the government of acting on "headlines rather than evidence" and pointed to figures indicating there had been 7,600 injuries from dogs in a single year.

Yousaf said the review of the legislation had been delayed by Covid but reiterated his support for the dog control notice regime currently in place. He said there were "more than 1,200 active dog control notice in place as we speak".

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