'We had to give our XL Bully to police after ban came in and couldn't believe it was the same dog'

Golden-brown XL Bully dog Maia at healthy weight before going to kennels, pictured from side with blue tape around front left ankle and with head in orange bucket
-Credit: (Image: Jamie Longbottom)

The owners of an XL Bully who was seized by police say their dog was returned to them malnourished and severely underweight. Jamie Longbottom and his parents Patrick Taylor and Cherie Bateman, who live in Top Valley, handed their 11-month-old bitch Maia to Nottinghamshire Police on April 11.

She was returned on Friday, May 31 after reportedly suffering from ill-health. The family say she has shrunk to half her original size and has had her tail cut off after allegedly "self-harming" by biting it incessantly.

Mr Taylor said: "I couldn't believe it. She was skin and bone, she had kennel cough, diarrhoea. It was upsetting and made me mad, to be honest. I could see her ribs and backbone, her back legs. I couldn't believe it was the same dog."

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It became illegal to own an XL Bully dog on February 1, 2024 after a ban was brought in by the government in the second half of 2023. It was after a spate of attacks on humans attributed to the breed.

Owners could pay £92.40 to apply for an exemption certificate, which would allow them to keep the dog as long as they applied with a strict set of rules including being neutered, microchipped and muzzled in public. However the deadline to apply for an exemption was January 22.

Birds eye view of beige XL bully dog Maia with ribs visible, chain leash and blue pillow-type collar, feeding from dog bowl/water bowl
XL Bully Maia was 'skin and bone' when she was returned home -Credit:Jamie Longbottom

Mr Longbottom says his family tried to apply for an exemption for Maia, but because of how busy the phone lines were they could never get through. Subsequently, in line with guidance, they told Nottinghamshire Police about Maia.

Mr Taylor was then charged with owning a dangerous dog and summonsed to court for an appearance later this month (June 2024). Maia was seized on April 11, to eventually be put down - but only after the court hearing had finished. It isn't known if Maia will still be put down.

Police sent Maia to third-party kennels to be looked after. The family say they tried multiple times to find out how she was doing by ringing up.

But they say that police would only tell them she was fine and could not provide any further update. Police also said they weren't able to provide a phone number for the kennels where Maia was being kept.

Then in mid-May, the family were told via a phone call that Maia would be returning home due to ill health - despite being illegal to own. She was suffering with anxiety, missing home and had even self-harmed by biting her own tail, the family was told.

But when she did return, she was around half the weight she had been when she had left. The family are raising the issue and dispute claims that she was thin because she didn't take to kennels well and wouldn't eat.

A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said: "We don’t keep the dogs on site. They go to a third-party kennel."