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XL bully ban latest: Updates after weekend of protests from owners

Hundreds gathered in London to protest against the proposed ban of XL bully dogs, hours after another suspected attack

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2023/09/23: A protester holds a placard which states 'Don't bully our bullies' during the demonstration in Whitehall. Dog owners and supporters marched in Westminster in protest against the American Bully XL ban. The breed of dog is set to be banned in the UK following a series of attacks on people. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A protester holds up a placard during a demonstration in Whitehall, London. (Getty Images)

What's happening? Hundreds of pet owners took to the streets of London to protest against the planned ban of American XL bully dogs.

Earlier this month, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced that XL bullies will be banned by the end of this year.

But owners say their dogs are not to blame for recent high-profile attacks, including another just hours before the protest took place.

A man was taken to hospital after being bitten by a suspected American XL bully in a park in south London.

However, one XL bully owner who protested at Westminster the following day said: "I’ve never known a dog so affectionate and soppy."

Yahoo News UK examines the latest developments in the ongoing row over American XL bully dogs...

XL bully dog protests: What happened?

London, UK. 23rd Sep, 2023. After the announcement of the ban on XL Bullies in the UK, a wave of XL Bully owners has taken to the streets to passionately voice their opposition to this new legislation. These protesters are driven by concerns over their beloved pets and the potential impact of the ban on responsible ownership. They believe that blanket restrictions fail to distinguish between responsible owners and those who engage in irresponsible breeding or mistreatment, 23/09/2023 Ehimetalor Unuabona/Alamy Live News Credit: Ehimetalor Unuabona/Alamy Live News
American XL bully owners protest on the streets of London against a proposed ban of their dogs. (Alamy)

Hundreds of people marched in central London on Saturday to protest against prime minister Rishi Sunak's proposed ban on American XL bully dogs.

Protesters held up signs in Trafalgar Square saying, "Don't bully our bullies" and "Muzzle Rishi".

One demonstrator was pictured wearing a T-shirt with a mocked-up image of the prime minister with a muzzle on. The T-shirt read: "Muzzle Rishi. Don't bully our breed."

The dog owners did not bring their pets to the demonstration.

People take part in a protest in central London, against the Government's decision to add XL bully dogs to the list of prohibited breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act following a spate of recent attacks. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Moore/PA Images via Getty Images)
A protester in a T-shirt during a demonstration against prime minister Rishi Sunak's plan to ban American XL bully dogs. (PA)

They chanted "Save our bullies" and "Sit for your dog" during the protest.

One XL bully owner who attended the march, Michelle West, from Northfleet, told Kent Online prior to the demonstration: “I've never known a dog so affectionate and soppy.”

Meanwhile, a man in his 40s was taken to hospital after being bitten on the arm by a suspected American XL bully dog in Pasley Park, Walworth, south London, shortly after 6pm on Friday.

“The owner of the dog left the scene with the dog before officers arrived,” the Metropolitan Police said.

“The dog is believed to have been a grey-coloured XL bully.”

Police are investigating and no arrests have been made.

In another development, a man who stood up for XL bullies on social media was attacked by one of the dogs, it was reported.

Ben Cźyżyk, 38, from Wolverhampton, was bitten by a suspected XL bully on Friday evening, the MailOnline reported.

He was attacked in the Tettenhall area shortly after 10pm.

Just days earlier, he had posted on social media: "Any breed can be taught to be aggressive. It's time we quite blaming the wrong end of the leash."

Why were they protesting?

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2023/09/23: A protester holds a placard which states 'Don't bully my breed' during the demonstration in Parliament Square. Dog owners and supporters marched in Westminster in protest against the American Bully XL ban. The breed of dog is set to be banned in the UK following a series of attacks on people. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A protester holds a placard which states, 'Don't bully my breed' during a demonstration in Parliament Square. (Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Sunak vowed to ban XL bullies by the end of the year, under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The move was in response to a series of attacks involving suspected American XL bullies.

Sunak's announcement followed the death of Ian Price, 52, who died after he was attacked by two dogs in Stonnall, Staffordshire, in what police said was a suspected XL bully attack.

In another suspected XL bully attack days earlier, an 11-year-old girl was left with serious injuries after she was bitten by a dog in Birmingham.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said last week a “transition period” would be introduced, with details likely to follow a consultation on the plan.

Watch: Rishi Sunak promises to ban 'dangerous' XL bully dogs

Owners could face a requirement to neuter their dogs and muzzle them in public, the government’s chief vet has suggested.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We will need to safely manage the existing population of these dogs. Exactly what that looks like will be a topic for the consultation.

“And there will need to be some sort of transition period.”

The XL bully, which is developed from the American pit bull terrier, is not recognised as a specific breed by the Kennel Club.

There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK, according to the list drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.

XL bully dog petition continues to grow in support

Big american bully dog
The fate of the American XL bully dog is the subject of debate in the UK. (File photo: Getty Images)

An online petition to Parliament calling on the government not to ban the XL bully has now reached more than 574,000 signatures.

Parliament considers all petitions that receive more than 100,000 signatures for a debate.

The petition reads: "Bad owners are to blame not the breed - don't ban the XL bully."

American XL bully owner and professional boxer Mark Heffron, 31, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, said his two-year-old dog Tyson is a "big friendly giant" who "loves kids", including his daughter Poppy.

He said: "I don’t think it’s the dogs, it’s the owners that are bringing them up to be nasty, just like any other dog."

What should the public do around dogs?

american xl bully in woodlands
An American XL bully dog. (File photo: Getty Images)

Vet Lynne James, from the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) charity, told Yahoo News UK: “We know the recent headlines are very distressing, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of dogs in the UK are not dangerous.

“You should always be calm and quiet when interacting with dogs. Never approach an unknown dog without checking with their owner first, and make sure you ask their owner before stroking them.

“Do not approach a dog that is alone outside or running around loose in a garden. If you do see an unaccompanied dog, we recommend you call the council or report the dog online, rather than approaching it, as it may be injured or distressed.

“We also recommend that you never run or shout around an unfamiliar dog."

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