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Chief vet says amnesty will let owners keep ‘well managed’ dogs

There will not be an immediate cull of American XL Bully dogs under a ban on the breed announced by Rishi Sunak, the UK’s chief veterinary officer has said.

Professor Christine Middlemiss confirmed that the Government will instead pursue an “amnesty” approach where existing owners are allowed to keep the dogs under certain conditions including having them neutered and making them wear a muzzle.

“There will be an amnesty. So people that already have these dogs – and some of them will be well socialised, well managed, well trained – you will need to register and take certain actions,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Your dog will need to be neutered. It will need to be muzzled when out in public and on a lead and insured.”

Professor Middlemiss said people will “absolutely” be able to keep their American XL Bullies “if they comply with these actions”.

“That means we’ll know where these dogs are, which will be a massive benefit,” she said.

Government sources told i on Friday that an amnesty period would likely last roughly one year, after which there would be an outright ban on owning the animals.

During the amnesty period, owners of XL bullies can apply to keep their dog by showing they fulfil certain conditions.

After the amnesty period has expired, expected in 2025, any of the dogs which have not passed the conditions are expected to be put down and it will be illegal to breed or import any new XL Bullies.

It follows mounting pressure to prohibit the breed after American XL Bullies have been linked to 10 deaths in the UK since 2021. Mr Sunak announced plans to ban the breed hours after Ian Price, 52, was fatally mauled by two suspected XL Bully dogs close to a primary school in Stonnall, Staffordshire.

The Prime Minister said the breed was a “danger to our communities, particularly children” and that ministers would draw up plans to bring in new laws prohibiting ownership of the dogs by the end of the year.

The Dangerous Dogs Act passed into law on 12 August 1991, three months after six-year-old Rukhsana Khan was attacked by a pitbull in Bradford in May of that year.

Under the Act, owners of dogs that attack people can be prosecuted, and face a maximum fine of £5,000 or two years imprisonment.

The act currently bans four types of dogs – pitbull terriers, Japanese Toser, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.

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