Owners of XL bully dogs can now apply for a Certificate of Exemption, after the Government announced the transition period has begun before the breed is banned.
Applications for a certificate can be made online. Owners will need to pay a £92.40 application fee and have third party liability insurance for banned breeds of dogs in place before they apply.
Owners will also have to make sure their dog has been microchipped, which is already a legal requirement for all dogs, and that their dog has been neutered by a certain date (depending on the age of the dog).
The transition period will run until 31 January 2024. From 1 February 2024, owners without a Certificate of Exemption face the risk of being prosecuted and could receive an unlimited fine.
Some of the rules concerning XL bully dogs will come into force before then. From 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to breed, sell, give away, rehome, or abandon an XL bully. When in public, XL bully dogs will be required to be kept muzzled and on a lead.
If an owner does not wish to apply for a Certificate of Exemption, they can choose to have their dog euthanised. The Government has put in place a compensation scheme, with forms available online for owners and veterinary surgeons.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “It is important that XL bully owners read the guidance and take all the necessary steps.
“This includes applying for a Certificate of Exemption if you want to keep your dog and ensuring they are muzzle trained by the end of the year, as your dog will need to be muzzled and on a lead in public after 31 December 2023.
“XL breeders should have also now stopped breeding their dogs and I would advise all owners to make an appointment with your vet to get your XL Bully neutered as soon as possible.”
Responding to the news, BVNA president Lyndsay Hughes said: “All members of the veterinary team are likely to be faced with the very real possibility of assisting with euthanasia of young and healthy animals.
“Whilst we recognise in the case of any aggressive dog presenting to the practice that this is a viable treatment option, we will explore all other options whilst considering human safety before this final step.
“If presented with an XL Bully dog, whether aggressive or not, the options to the veterinary team will now be much more limited. The offer of compensating for the partial costs of the euthanasia may go some way to alleviating the client’s suffering, but this will have a serious impact of the wellbeing of the veterinary team faced with this task.”
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