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Growing opposition emerges against proposed American Bully XL dog ban

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The recent announcement by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ban American Bully XL dogs has ignited a vigorous debate in the aftermath of a series of distressing dog attacks, including a recent fatal incident in Staffordshire.

Addressing the nation last Thursday, Sunak emphasized the urgency of the situation. He stated, “The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children. I share the nation’s horror at the recent videos we’ve all seen. Yesterday, we saw another suspected XL bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality. It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs; it’s a pattern of behaviour, and it cannot go on.”

In response to these concerns, the Government has initiated a mission to officially define the breed and subsequently ban it under the Dangerous Dogs Act. This comprehensive approach aims to prevent further attacks and ensure the safety and well-being of individuals and communities nationwide. Sunak reassured the public, stating, “These dogs are dangerous. I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”

However, as the debate unfolds, opposition to breed-specific bans is growing. Leading the opposition is the RSPCA, expressing concerns about breed-focused bans potentially penalizing non-violent dogs. They argue that dog aggression is a complex issue, and adopting a breed-focused approach is fundamentally flawed.

The Dog Control Coalition – which includes Battersea, Blue Cross, the Dogs Trust, BVA, the Scottish SPCA, the Kennel Club and Hope Rescue – told the BBC that breed-specific bans had been proven to be ineffective. 

“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites, and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working,” it said.  “The Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.”

Appearing on BBC’s Newsnight, dog trainer Jo-Rosie Haffenden shed light on a crucial aspect of the issue, highlighting that dogs bred for “working and sporting purposes or for protection” often become family pets. Haffenden emphasised the lack of public education regarding suitable breeds and their specific needs, stating, “I don’t think there’s enough education out there for the public about what breeds they should be getting and what those breeds need.”

Adding to the opposition, dog trainer Kay Taiwo emphasized on ITV that American Bully XL dogs are not inherently bred for ultra-aggression. She stated, “These dogs don’t want to jump about the place. You go online and see people who own these dogs; they will tell you that the dog is calm.”

The debate continues.

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