British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has declared the American XL Bully dogs a “danger to our communities” and announced plans to ban the breed by the end of the year. This decision comes after public outrage following several attacks, including an incident where an 11-year-old girl was seriously injured in Birmingham and a man tragically lost his life in an attack suspected to involve this breed.
Details of the Attacks
- A man was killed in an attack involving a suspected XL bully in Walsall, in England’s West Midlands region.
- An 11-year-old girl in Birmingham was left with severe injuries after being attacked by an American XL Bully. Two other men who intervened during the attack were hospitalized with bite wounds.
- In April, a 65-year-old woman lost her life attempting to stop a fight between her two American bullies in Liverpool. Her injuries were described as “catastrophic.”
- Last year, a 17-month-old toddler in St Helens was fatally mauled by one of the dogs just a week after her family acquired it.
- In 2021, 10-year-old Jack Lis from Caerphilly, Wales, succumbed to grave head and neck injuries after an attack by an American Bully XL. His mother, Emma Whitfield, has since been advocating for a ban on the breed.
Efforts to Legally Define the Breed
Coordinating with police and dog gurus is what Prime Minister Sunak has set ministers to do. Their job? Clearly spell out the traits of an American XL Bully, a breed that’s currently on the chopping block for the Dangerous Dogs Act. Now, this clears things up a bit since big leagues like Britain’s Kennel Club and the U.S.’s American Kennel Club have yet to acknowledge this breed as unique.
If you’re wondering what an American XL Bully is, well it’s essentially an offshoot of the American pit bull terrier. And here’s a fun fact from Britain’s Kennel Club: they are not naturally aggressive or violent. Who’s responsible then? According to them, it’s those reckless owners who get a kick out of training their pooches for aggression that we should be blaming.
Characteristics of the American Bully XL
- Originated in the US in the late 1980s from crossbreeding American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers.
- Known to be the largest type among the American Bullies: standard, pocket, classic, and XL.
- Possesses a strong physique, with some weighing over nine stone (60kg).
- Recognized by the United Kennel Club in the US as an excellent family dog with a gentle and friendly disposition.
- The first appearance in the UK was around 2014 or 2015, with its popularity surging during the coronavirus pandemic.
Existing Bans and Restrictions
Currently, four breeds are prohibited in the UK:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentinos
- Fila Brazileiro
Crossbreeds that share physical traits with the above-listed breeds are also outlawed.
Those found in possession of a banned breed can face penalties including fines, imprisonment, and the dog being seized and potentially euthanized.
Internationally, American Bullies are illegal in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In the Republic of Ireland, any American Bully must be muzzled and leashed (not exceeding 2m) when out in public.
The Case for Owner Responsibility
Many experts stress the importance of educating potential dog owners about the responsibilities that come with owning a powerful breed. They argue that with the right training and care, incidents involving American XL Bullies and other breeds could decrease.
For instance, owners could be required to attend mandatory training sessions or ensure that their dogs pass behavior assessments. Stricter licensing and microchipping policies could also help authorities track and ensure the well-being of these dogs.
Public Reaction and Government Responses
As reported, Sunak said in a video statement on X (formerly known as Twitter), “The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, especially our children. We cannot allow these attacks to continue.” Home Secretary Suella Braverman echoed Sunak’s sentiments, highlighting the urgent need to address the issue and protect the public from these dogs.
Overall, while the breed’s proponents emphasize its typically gentle nature towards humans, the surge in aggressive incidents has raised alarm. The government’s swift response is a testament to the urgency of addressing public safety concerns related to these animals.