American XL bully ban dates confirmed for Scotlandon January 31, 2024 at 4:40 pm

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The Scottish government says the first stage of new restrictions will take effect from 23 February.

An XL BullyImage source, Jacob King

New restrictions on XL bully dogs are being introduced in Scotland from 23 February.

It will be legal to own one of the dogs but they must be muzzled and on a lead in public from that date. Selling or exchanging them will be banned.

And from 31 July it will be an offence to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate.

The regulations mirror those in England and Wales but certificates will be required there from Thursday.

Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown urged owners to prepare for the first stage of the new legislation coming into effect.

She said: “These new rules are intended to prevent risks to public safety and animal welfare and keep our communities safe.

“The second stage of legal safeguards will provide owners seeking an exemption an appropriate length of time to decide how to prepare for the forthcoming change in the law ahead of the 31 July deadline.”

Ms Brown added that the vast majority of dog owners were “responsible animal lovers”.

Penalties for breaching the new safeguards are up to six months imprisonment and or a fine up to £5,000.

The minister outlined the restrictions in a letter to Holyrood’s criminal justice committee.

Picture of a brown dog with some of the criteria listed

Due to rising concerns over attacks and even deaths, the breed was initially banned by the UK government in England and Wales.

The Scottish government followed suit after an increasing number of the animals were being rehomed in the country from across the border, creating what First Minister Humza Yousaf described as a “flow” of the dogs.

Earlier this month Mr Yousaf said the decision was made to “ensure public safety”.

But the RSPCA has warned thousands of owners could breach new laws banning the dogs.

Owners registering to keep their XL bully must comply with restrictions to ensure they are not a danger to the public, including being microchipped, kept on a lead, muzzled in public and neutered to ensure they cannot continue breeding.

Further details regarding what date applications for an exemption certificate will open in Scotland, how to apply and available support will be announced over the coming weeks.

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Are you an XL Bully owner worried about the deadline? Are you the victim of an XL bully attack? Get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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