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A Bittersweet New Year: Reflecting on the Impact of Breed Specific Legislation on XL Bullies in the UK

A Bittersweet New Year: Reflecting  on the Impact of Breed Specific Legislation on XL Bullies in the UK
  • Carolina Romero

As we welcome the dawn of a new year with hope and anticipation, there exists a poignant undertone that taints the joyous spirit – the plight of XL Buliies in the United Kingdom, caught in the crosshairs of Breed-Specific Legislation (“BSL”). While the world celebrates fresh beginnings, these loyal companions face an uncertain future, all due to the unfair stigma attached to their breed.

New laws on XL bullies in England and Wales came into force on 31 December before an outright ban in February. From 31 December 2023, it is mandatory to keep XL Bullies on a lead and muzzled in public.  From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offense to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog. Owners will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption.

In the UK, BSL was introduced with the intention of reducing dog attacks by targeting specific breeds deemed more dangerous. Unfortunately, pit bulls have borne the brunt of this legislation, often facing unwarranted prejudice. The controversy surrounding BSL centers on the argument that a dog's behavior is primarily influenced by its upbringing and environment, rather than its looks or breed. 

Indeed, BSL has been proven to be ineffective and thus, unnecessary. Instead of addressing the root causes of dog aggression, such as irresponsible ownership and lack of proper training, BSL unfairly targets specific breeds, often focusing on appearance rather than behavior. This approach fails to recognize the considerable variability within a breed and the impact of individual upbringing and environment on a dog's temperament.

Furthermore, it often results in the euthanasia of innocent and well-behaved dogs solely based on their appearance. A more effective strategy would involve promoting responsible ownership, emphasizing education and training programs, and addressing the factors contributing to aggressive behavior in dogs, regardless of their breed.

As the clock stroke midnight and fireworks illuminated the sky, it's disheartening to think that XL bullies, known for their loyalty and affectionate nature, were subject to discriminatory policies that lead to euthanasia. 

This New Year's, let's not only toast to new beginnings but also reflect on the need for compassionate and informed legislation. While we celebrate the joy of a fresh start, our hearts ache for the countless XL bullies facing an uncertain fate. May this year bring about a shift in perspective, urging policymakers to reconsider BSL and embrace more humane alternatives that safeguard both public safety and the well-being of these misunderstood companions.