Experts anticipate XL bully ban will modify dog attack trend

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By Creative Media News

  • XL bully dog ban controversy
  • Experts doubt effectiveness
  • Calls for broader measures

According to one expert, the XL bully prohibition is analogous to implementing a gun ban to prevent shooting deaths by prohibiting only one make and model of firearm.

According to experts, prohibiting XL bully dogs will not reduce the number of dog attacks and may even exacerbate the situation.

On December 31, the initial regulations of a phased prohibition on XL bullies went into effect. Owners who do not wish to have their dog euthanized are required to obtain an exemption.

The restrictions were declared earlier this year by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who labelled the breed a “danger to communities” in response to a series of attacks.

Some experts think the government shouldn’t limit a dog breed with “immediate loopholes” for public safety.

Effectiveness of Banning Specific Dog Breeds Debated by Experts

Some activists, according to Professor Carri Westgarth, chair in human-animal interaction at the University of Liverpool, have compared the ruling to prohibiting firearms to prevent gunshot deaths: “However, that would be the equivalent of prohibiting a single brand and model of firearm.”

When asked if the prohibition would be effective, Dr. John Tulloch replied unequivocally, “No.”

Moreover, he is an epidemiologist and veterinarian at the University of Liverpool who studies fatalities and injuries involving dogs.

His research shows that dog bite-related hospitalisations for adults have risen in 20 years. The rise in canine-related injuries predates the introduction of XL bullies to the United Kingdom. The hybrid was introduced around 2014.

“Had I genuinely believed that the increase in the last two decades was attributable to a single dog breed, I would wholeheartedly support the notion that this breed should not be permitted,” he stated. Contrary to my belief, this is not the case.

“This has regressed the conversation”

He stated that XL bullies are associated with organised crime. Those desiring the size and strength of the combat dog can simply acquire another breed of large dog or create one with those characteristics.

He believes that failing to address the animals’ biting causes could “potentially” lead to more attacks.

He stated, “I believe it has set back the conversation regarding dangerous dogs and dog bites by several years.”

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Further scrutiny should be applied to individuals who purchase canines, he continued. “I am aware that I could purchase a dog by the end of the day by going online right now.” It is quite simple… I could buy a mastiff dog that doesn’t fit my lifestyle or home right away.

The imposition of the ban will eradicate hundreds of XL abusers, but thousands will remain unaffected. Pet owners can apply for exemptions, and the ministry said most of the 4,000 applications were granted.

Bullies exempt from XL must be muzzled and on a lead in public under new restrictions.

Professor Westgarth stated that since the majority of dog attacks and fatalities occur indoors or when the dog escapes. The measures will not reduce bites in the most common locations. Furthermore, unlike other banned breeds, the exemption scheme does not assess the owner’s suitability to own a banned breed or the dog’s temperament.

XL bullies lack DNA markers and are not classified as a breed in the UK, making them hard to describe.

According to Professor Westgarth, this creates significant challenges for authorities and owners alike in accurately identifying and enforcing the prohibition. It also increases the likelihood of inadvertently including dogs that are not XL bullies or overlooking dogs that are.

Clinical animal behaviourist Rosie Bescoby emphasised the significance of height as a distinguishing characteristic. “A one-inch difference will effectively determine whether or not a bull-breed type dog is considered dangerous.”

Are elevated rates of dog attacks the new norm?

Ten individuals perished in dog assaults in 2022. Prior to that, the mean annual rate was 3.3.

There have been at least eight fatalities this year. Dr. Tulloch stated that it is premature to statistically determine whether these fatal dog attack statistics will represent the new norm; however, “from a normal perspective, it appears that the number is increasing.”

All of them agreed that it is not as straightforward as prohibiting a single breed to reduce the rate.

What if not a prohibition?

Prof. Westgarth wanted guidelines to ensure “only dogs with good temperament and physical health are bred from.” However, she acknowledged that this would necessitate sufficient police and local government resources to enforce.

She added that agencies should be “obliged and expected” to share information regarding problematic canines and “near-miss” incidents, since accountability for dog-related matters only commences after an individual has been bitten, and that behaviourists and dog trainers should be subject to regulation.

Additionally, societal transformation is required, she continued. It is imperative that individuals “believe that all dogs are capable of biting” and additionally “stop trusting that ‘my dog would never hurt anyone’.”

Ms Bescoby advocated for reforms to prevent the unassessed sale of dogs on platforms like Facebook or Gumtree, as well as mandatory education sessions for dog owners whose dogs have been reported for antisocial behaviour (as was the case with a significant number of the dogs involved in fatal attacks) that mirrored speed awareness sessions.

Licencing dogs has been proposed as a solution. However, Dr. Tulloch reiterated the difficulty of expecting “personnel-and-cash-strapped” agencies to enforce it. Additionally, he added that owners are unlikely to consider it “socially acceptable” to pay hundreds of pounds annually.

While Ireland has implemented a dog licencing system, a recent report revealed that the number of dog strikes requiring hospitalisation has doubled over the past decade.

In the end, a multitude of distinct measures are required, according to the experts.

A spokesman for the government department Defra (environment, food and rural affairs) stated that the prohibition of the XL bully breed constituted “immediate and decisive action to protect the public.” Efforts were being made to “ensure that the entire spectrum of existing powers to address dog control issues are effectively applied” to all dog breeds, the spokesperson added.

In collaboration with the Responsible Dog Ownership taskforce, which was established this year by police, local authority groups, and animal welfare experts, the department is reportedly contemplating “the role of education and training in mitigating the likelihood of dog attacks, as well as strategies to comprehensively tackle negligent dog ownership.”

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