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UK government mulls banning American Bully XL dog after violent attack

Suella Braverman has raised concerns over the American Bully XL breed after the attack in Birmingham
Suella Braverman has raised concerns over the American Bully XL breed after the attack in Birmingham Copyright Graphistes Euronews
Copyright Graphistes Euronews
By Scott Reid
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A leading British politician described the breed as a "clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children."


A horrific attack by a dog on an 11-year-old girl in a British street has led the government to investigate whether its breed should be banned. 

American Bully XL dogs have been at the centre of a heated national debate after a video emerged of the attack on Saturday in Birmingham, central England, in which the girl and two people who intervened to help were bitten. All three were treated in hospital.

The dog was taken to a vet to be checked over before being transported to secure kennels while investigations continue and the owner has been spoken to by police officers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said "we can't go on like this", adding that the "American XL Bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children."

She said she was asking for urgent advice on banning them.

Emma Whitfield, whose 10-year-old son Jack Lis died after being attacked at a dog of the same breed at a house in Caerphilly, Wales, in 2021, supported the ban but was critical of the timing.

"It's crazy how this video has gone viral and now politicians are coming out of the woodwork saying how bad it is," she posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Where were you when other innocent people were killed? Where were you when I was at Parliament asking for change? Nowhere."

Judging by polling conducted before this attack, a ban would be popular with the general public.

However, animal charities such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been arguing against breed-specific bans which they say work against dogs perceived to be dangerous and lead to innocent animals being put down.

The RSPCA, alongside other organisations such as the Scottish SPCA, The Kennel Club and Battersea form the Dog Control Coalition, instead want a focus on responsible dog ownership.

"We are all incredibly concerned about the rising number of dog bite incidents and the biggest priority of everyone involved is to protect the public," a spokesperson said.

"Thirty-two years of the Dangerous Dogs Act, which has focused on banning specific types, has coincided with a troubling increase in dog bites and fatalities which shows that this approach simply isn't working."

The spokesperson added that the increased popularity of the breed has made them valuable commodities, "resulting in irresponsible breeding, rearing and ownership, which can all contribute to an increased likelihood of aggression in dogs, regardless of breed."

"However, the view of all leading animal charities is that the solution is not banning more types," the spokesperson added. "Instead, the government needs to focus on the improvement and enforcement of current breeding and dog control regulations, and on promoting responsible dog ownership and training.”

And some owners of the breed have also spoken out in its defence.

"You need to look at the owners before getting rid of the dog," one posted on X. "I have a XL bully, he is the most stupid thing out there and one of the most loving dogs I know. All he wants to do is sit and watch TV and have cuddles. He is blind in one eye and scared of his own shadow."

Adding dogs to the banned list is the responsibility of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

"We take dog attacks and antisocial behaviour very seriously and are making sure the full force of the law is being applied," a DEFRA spokesperson said.


“This can range from lower-level Community Protection Notices – which require dog owners to take appropriate action to address behaviour – to more serious offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act, where people can be put in prison for up to 14 years, be disqualified from ownership or result in dangerous dogs being euthanised," they added.

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