Controversial XL bullies were conspicuously absent from a protest against the UK government's decision to ban the breed over the weekend, as organisers say they feared the public antagonising or misrepresenting their dogs.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the relatively new dog breed derived, in part, from pit bulls would be added to the UK’s list of prohibited breeds by the end of the year, following a recent spate of serious attacks.
This included two incidents this month, one in Birmingham where a young girl and two men who tried to help her were bitten, and the death of Staffordshire father-of-two Ian Price, who was tragically killed by two dogs believed to be XL bullies after they jumped out of a neighbour’s window.
NationalWorld's sister title LondonWorld reported that hundreds of American XL bully dog owners and fans gathered in London on Saturday (23 September) to protest the proposed ban. Protesters in Trafalgar Square held signs saying “don’t bully our bullies”, and “stop bullying our best friends" - while many featured the slogan “bad owners not bad dogs”.
However, there were none of the dogs in questions on display at the protests themselves, leading some advocates for the ban to ask why their owners had not brought them along, if XL bullies were really safe.
A mass XL bully march planned for Birmingham this coming Saturday (30 September) also decided to ban the dogs from participating, however the Mirror reports in a second u-turn, the organisers have decided to allow XL bully puppies - but not adult dogs.
Here's everything you need to know:
Why were there no XL bullies at the anti-breed ban protests?
Prior to the London demonstration, LondonWorld reports activists were warned in a message that “police will antagonise and seize your dog”.
The concern among protesters seemed to be that either members of the public or police would purposefully harass or bother the dogs to upset them, then use any negative reaction as an excuse to take their pets away.
A similar sentiment was expressed by Jake Harris, who is organising the Birmingham march. He initially said he wanted to see as many friendly dogs, children and families as possible at the event, but changed his mind and said no dogs would be allowed after backlash online, BirminghamLive reports.
On his later decision to allow dogs under six months old, he said he feared people would take photos of the gathering that misconstrued and further villainised the dogs. "The simple fact is I don't want no camera taking pictures of a dog that's barking to go play with another dog because social media has this power to do numbers - they can portray this whole meet off one picture.
"So if you want to come and you want to bring a dog, bring a puppy. Don't bring no big, full-grown dog," he added. Mr Harris told the BBC the event had actually been a bully owners meet planned for a number of months, but had evolved into more of a protest after the ban was announced.
"I've three XL Bullies and not one of them would hurt a soul. Yes they might look big and scary but they are big family dogs," he told BirminghamLive. "Before the ban, most people weren't even scared of them".
The same day as the London protest, a man in the city's southeast was taken to a hospital after being bitten by a dog in a park, believed to be a grey-coloured XL Bully.
The owner and the dog left the scene before police arrived, and enquiries are ongoing.