XL Bully dogs: letter to Criminal Justice Committee

Letter from the Minister for Victims and Community Safety Siobhian Brown to the Criminal Justice Committee about the The Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (Scotland) Order 2024 and what this will mean for XL Bully dogs.

From: Minister for Victims and Community Safety
To: Criminal Justice Committee

31 January 2024

Dear Convenor

The Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (Scotland) Order 2024 

Further to my statement to Parliament on 18 January, I write to inform you about the two-stage approach the Scottish Government is taking in relation to XL Bully dogs for the new safeguards we are introducing.

The Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (Scotland) Order was made by the Scottish Ministers under powers in section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 on Wednesday 31 January 2024. This instrument is subject to negative procedure and was laid in the Scottish Parliament today, Wednesday 31 January. We have written to the Presiding Officer in relation to the breach of Standing Orders – a copy of this letter been sent separately to you. The Order is due to come into force on Friday 23 February 2024.

This first stage of new rules on XL Bully dogs means owners of XL Bully dogs must ensure their dogs are muzzled and on a lead when in a public place. Selling, gifting or exchanging XL Bully dogs will also be prohibited. It will remain legal to own an XL Bully dog after 23 February.  

The second stage of the new rules will mean that from 1 August 2024, it will be an offence to own a XL Bully dog without an exemption. Owners of an XL Bully dog will need to apply for an exemption on or before 31 July 2024 to be able to continue owning their dog. The details of the exemption scheme, as well as arrangements for compensation for any XL Bully dog owners not wishing to retain their dogs, will be included in further secondary legislation which will be subject to negative procedure which I intend to lay in the coming weeks.  I will update the Committee again at that point.

The reason for this urgent action is that the UK Government has been unable to confirm that an owner of an XL Bully dog who lives in England and Wales who comes to Scotland would be breaching English and Welsh law by selling their XL Bully dog in this manner. This has created a loophole in the English and Welsh controls with reports of some owners coming to Scotland to sell their XL Bully dogs.

As a result, and in a decision not made lightly, the Scottish Government considers it necessary to introduce similar safeguards in Scotland with urgency to address growing public safety and animal welfare concerns. By introducing the same safeguards as operate in England and Wales, this removes the loophole created by the UK Government in relation to English and Welsh XL Bully dog owners who come to Scotland in this way.  

What does this mean for owners of XL Bully dogs

The designation of the XL Bully dog through the Order means that from 23 February 2024, it will be an offence under Scots law for a person in Scotland to:

  • allow an XL Bully dog owned by the person or of which they for the first time being in charge to be without a muzzle and lead in a public place
  • breed, or breed from, an XL Bully dog
  • sell or exchange an XL Bully dog, or offer, advertise or expose an XL Bully dog for sale or exchange
  • make or offer to make a gift of such a dog or advertise or expose an XL Bully dog as a gift
  • where an owner, abandon an XL Bully dog or where either an owner or for the time being in charge, allow an XL Bully to stray

I hope this information is helpful. 

Yours sincerely

Siobhian Brown

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