XL Bully breed: 'It's the owners not the dogs'

Lily Collins says the breed are 'misunderstood' and 'irresponsible dog owners have ruined it for everyone else'

An XL bully owner from Worcestershire has been organising walks for the owners of the breed to help adapt to the new rules and regulations.

Lily Collins, who lives in Bromsgrove, has initiated the walks to provide a supportive community for owners of what she says is a 'misunderstood' breed.

It has followed a spate of attacks by dogs of that breed, some of which proved fatal - leading to the government introducing new measures in December last year.

The measures dictate that XL bullies must be kept on a lead, be muzzled in public and be kept in secure enough accommodation that they cannot escape.

Lily says the walks offer a platform for responsible XL bully owners to connect and arrange meet ups for their dogs, while adhering to the rules and regulations.

The walks are advertised for owners that she believes are responsible, and only owners who do adhere to the rules are allowed to join.

Each walk so far has attracted up to 25 XL bullies. The walks to far have taken place in the Midlands but these are being extended to various parts of the UK.

Lily said: "The reason I have started these XL bully pack walks is because I believe it is a great opportunity to allow other dog owners who own this breed to connect with one another going through the same thing and to arrange for our dogs to meet whilst following the new rules and regulations. "Connecting with other XL bully owners is really comforting but also really sad, the breed is becoming extinct due to a percentage of irresponsible dog owners who have ruined it for everyone else. it is the responsible owners like me who are suffering.

"I know a few of the dog's who attended the walk were rescued just before the ban was put into place, these dogs specifically didn’t have the best backgrounds or upbringing so giving these dogs the opportunity to socialise correctly is still so important, which is really hard to do since the ban was official, because there is so much bad stigma around muzzles people avoid you because your dog is wearing one, not realising this is a law.

"The aim from these pack walks is to help owners gain that confidence back, as It can be quite daunting walking in public with your banned breed, you almost feel like the odd one out.

"It is also an opportunity to show the public the great side to this breed - in the right hands. These are powerful dogs but with the right owners, level of training, breed fulfilment and stimulation, they are amazing family dogs.

"Unfortunately a percentage of people have used these dogs as status symbols and weapons - bringing these dogs up in the completely wrong way. These owners are the reason as to why we are in the mess we are today.

"So the aim is just to show the public that they can be wonderful wonderful dogs."

What impact could the ban have?

The RSPCA has previously said the measures were “not the answer” and warned of a “huge risk” that rescue centres and vets will be unable to cope with a likely surge in demand.

The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) warned of increased abandonment rates and said the new rules may lead to a “postcode lottery” for vets being able to help owners meet the terms.

There has also been criticism the number of attacks is unlikely to drop as a result of the ban.

XL bullies were added to the Dangerous Dogs Act on October 31 last year, giving owners two months to prepare for the first stage of restrictions.

People with dangerously out of control dogs can be jailed for 14 years and banned from owning animals, and their pets can be put down.

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