XL bully owners race to send dogs to Scotland ahead of ban

Some XL bully dogs have already been sent to Scotland
Some XL bully dogs have already been sent to Scotland

American XL bully dogs are being rehomed in Scotland ahead of a ban on breeding and selling the animals in England and Wales.

Social media posts suggested that several of the dogs have been transported north of the border as owners seek to escape a new law that comes into force within weeks.

Campaigners fear that early reports of cross-border traffic involving XL bully dogs add weight to concerns that many breeders will relocate their entire operations to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Images of the animals being transported in cages emerged on TikTok, the social media platform. One photograph was captioned: “We found safe homes for them all in Scotland.”

The dogs are being sent to Scotland in cages
The dogs are being sent to Scotland in cages

On Facebook, Bedlay Gardens, a dog boarding company based in Chryston, Lanarkshire, shared a post on Monday revealing that the first pick-up of XL bully dogs had taken place with the “pups” set to be “behaviourally assessed” before meeting their new families.

It showed images of six dogs in the back of a van as they were transported from Manchester.

There are estimated to be at least 10,000 XL bullies in the UK and rescue centres have been inundated with requests to take in unwanted pets since Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, announced plans to clamp down on the breed.

From Dec 31 it will be illegal to breed, sell or rehome XL bully dogs in England and Wales while owning one without an exemption certificate will be outlawed from Feb 1.

The ban will not apply in Scotland after SNP ministers argued that the move was premature, despite a spate of dog attacks.

SNP ministers have been warned that Scotland could be a 'dumping ground for dangerous dogs'
SNP ministers have been warned that Scotland could be a 'dumping ground for dangerous dogs'

Doug Smith, of the campaign group Bully Watch, warned that Holyrood’s failure to follow Westminster’s lead would result in an influx of the dogs north of the border, adding that there were “significant concerns about Scotland’s divergence on the ban”.

It follows a string of fatal attacks linked to XL bully dogs in recent years including the deaths of David Price, 52, in Staffordshire and Ian Langley, 54, in Sunderland.

In Scotland, Adam Watts, 55, was killed by an XL bully at his kennels business in Angus in Dec 2021.

A six-month-old XL bully savaged its teenage owner in Motherwell in October, leaving him needing surgery. The same month, a court heard how another XL bully mauled three children in Forfar.

‘Threat to public safety’

Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, had pleaded with SNP ministers to join the ban “in light of the threat to public safety”.

In a letter to Shona Robison, the Deputy First Minister, he argued that “it is vital we agree a shared solution which minimises the risk of creating a potential ‘dumping ground’ for dangerous dogs that are moved from England and Wales to Scotland”.

In November, Siobhan Brown, the SNP community safety minister, wrote to the UK Government formally rejecting the request. She said it would not be introduced in Scotland at the same time as “relevant evidence in this area” was still being assessed.

Ms Brown also sought assurances that English XL bully owners trying to get rid of their dogs would not be allowed to sell them in Scotland.

The Tories accused the SNP of “gambling with lives” by rejecting the invitation and claimed they were “yet again picking a constitutional fight with the UK Government”.

‘Dragging their heels’

The Tory MSP Jamie Greene told the Scottish Sun: “This is the inevitable and potentially dangerous consequence of the SNP dragging their heels over what action to take. They need to recognise the impact that dogs being [taken] north of the border to avoid restrictions might have on public safety.”

The Scottish Government said it was not given prior notice of the UK Government’s intention to implement the ban.

“We expect the UK Government to act responsibly and ensure there is no impact on Scotland of its decision,” it added.

“Any change to rules must be evidenced-based, and we are moving swiftly to carefully consider the evidence so we can make the right decision for Scotland.”