Owners speak out against XL bully ban

An XL Bully at a dog training class in Hull
The new rules mean XL bullies which are exempt must be muzzled and kept on a lead in public. Credit: ITV News

XL bully owners say strict new rules which effectively ban the breed are "traumatising".

From 1 February it became a criminal offence to own an XL bully dog without an exemption.

Many responsible dog lovers believe the rules are misguided.

Anastasia Pezzuto, from Chesterfield, said her two XL bullies "haven't got a bad bone in their body" and she fears losing them despite successfully applying for an exemption.She blames irresponsible owners for giving the breed a bad name."It is traumatising," she said. "You wake up everyday and think you're doing to lose something that you love."

Anastasia Pezzuto says her XL bullies don't have a 'bad bone'. Credit: ITV News

XL bullies are the fifth breed to be added to the banned list under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

It follows restrictions imposed at the end of last year after a series of attacks involving XL bullies, with one man dying after an attack in Sunderland last year.

While she disagrees with the new legislation, Anastasia says she will comply with the rules, which include a legal requirement for all XL bully dogs to be kept muzzled and on a lead when in public. She said dog licences and home checks would be a better solution."It's not necessary for these dogs to all be banned," she said.Alicia Langton, another XL bully owner, from Hull, said her one-year-old dog does not deserve to be kept muzzled and on a lead.

She said: "The fact that I have to muzzle her, keep her on a lead when she's got great recall, she's brilliant around people, she's well-behaved. I know a lot of people - who are the reason we're in this situation - aren't following the rules already."Steve Sellers, who runs dog training classes in Hull, believes the new rules are counterproductive. He said: "These dogs have basically gone underground. They're not being socialised anymore. They're not being trained. They're going to develop behavioural problems and actually, what I think we're going to see is an increase in attacks."

Alicia Langton says her dog doesn't deserve to be muzzled. Credit: ITV News

The RSPCA has also spoken out against breed-specific restrictions. Emma Slawinski, director of policy for the charity, said: "It's based on how the dog looks. It's not based on behaviour. It's not based on ownership or any of those issues and we know that doesn't work. We've had that kind of legislation for over 30 years.

"Four types of dog are already on it. Now they're looking to add a fifth, the XL bully and we know it doesn't work because dog bites have actually gone up in that time.

She added: "What can work is tackling irresponsible breeding, irresponsible ownership, looking at training, looking at licensing."

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