XL bully owner first in UK known to be prosecuted for breaching ban

XL bully owner first in UK known to be prosecuted for breaching ban

A Sussex dog owner is the first person known to have been prosecuted for breaking the XL Bully ban.

Patrick McKeown, 40,  confessed to keeping the dog at his Worthing address after police contacted him on a separate matter.

Worthing Magistrates’ Court heard how McKeown had not applied for an exemption for the animal, had not had the dog neutered, and had not obtained third party insurance.

This was in breach of strict new rules around XL Bully dogs introduced on February 1.

Witnesses also told police that the dog was seen loose in the backyard of the property. McKeown told police his dog would attack anyone who approached it.

Officers with Sussex Police then raided the address and seized it.

On March 12,  McKeown, formerly a builder of Church Road, Tarring, admitted one count of possessing or having a fighting dog, contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Magistrates imposed a one-year community order, requiring him to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £114 surcharge and the court also imposed an order for the destruction of the dog, pending an appeal.

Sussex Chief Inspector Simon Starns, force lead for responding to dangerous dogs, said: “This was one of the first cases of its type to be prosecuted in Sussex.

“It demonstrates to the public that owners have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with the new laws which are now in force.

“We continue to work closely with partners to ensure dogs are kept safe through responsible ownership and to reduce the risk to the public.

“We continue to ask all dog owners to comply with Government guidance on the ownership of the XL Bully breed of dog.

“This includes ensuring that all XL Bully breed dogs are muzzled and kept on a lead held by someone aged over 16 when in public places.”

Last month, an XL Bully dog was shot dead by police after it attacked four people in Battersea, south London.

Armed police swooped on Home Road on March 18 and destroyed the dog, while four men were taken to hospital for their injuries.

As of February, it has been a criminal offence to own, breed or sell an American XL bully dog unless you have an exemption certificate.

In order to be exempted, owners have to prove that their XL bully has been neutered, with puppies required to be neutered by the end of 2024.

The ban was introduced by ministers after a spate of high-profile attacks involving the breed, several of which were deadly.