Antrim Newtownabbey councillors told how many licensed XL Bullies in Borough

Stock image of XL Bully with brown coat and white chest
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


There are 30 licensed XL Bully breed dogs in Antrim and Newtownabbey, councillors have been told.

The number of licensed XL Bully dogs in Northern Ireland has doubled in the last six months following the UK Government’s announcement last September about banning these dogs in England and Wales, a report to the borough council’s Operations Committee said.

The report noted currently, Northern Ireland has approximately 200 licensed XL Bully dogs. It is proposed the XL Bully breed will be added to the list of dangerous dogs under the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 through the Dangerous Dogs (Designated Type) (Northern Ireland) Order 2024. The proposal follows a number of fatal dog attacks in the UK involving the breed.

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The Operations Committee has been told the new legislative controls aim to protect the public from risks posed by XL Bully dogs in Northern Ireland.

The report explained the legislation will make it illegal to breed, sell, gift, exchange, abandon, or permit them to stray and that they must be on a leash and muzzled in public. These measures are scheduled to take effect on June 28.

Meanwhile, an “exemption register” scheme will allow owners to legally keep their dogs by obtaining an exemption certificate which requires registering their dogs with the council.

The first stage of the new regulations will provide for designation of XL Bully dogs which will add the breed to the existing list of dangerous dogs, which already includes the breeds Pit Bull Terrier and Japanese Tosa.

Phase two will allow XL Bully owners to retain ownership of their dogs via an exemption certificate at a cost of £92.40 which must be obtained from the council. A compensation scheme will enable dog owners to surrender their dog for “humane destruction” if they do not wish to comply with the requirements.

Owners who choose to surrender their dogs will receive a payment of £100 plus £100 towards veterinary costs. This scheme will be fully managed by DAERA (Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs).

The application process is expected to be open from August 1 until December 31. From January 2025, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully dog without an exemption certificate. Owners will need to have appropriate insurance and these dogs will have to be neutered.

Commenting on proposals at a meeting of the Operations Committee, which met at Antrim Civic Centre, on Monday evening, Glengormley DUP Alderman Paula Bradley said she was happy to propose noting the report.

“I think it shows responsibility,” she commented.

Dunsilly party colleague Ald. Linda Clarke said she was “happy to second”.

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