Key dates and actions for XL Bully owners regarding new banned breed laws

Merseyside Police has shared government advice to dog owners on the upcoming changes to the banned breed laws, which will include XL Bully type dogs from 1 February 2024.

To help current owners adapt to the new laws, these changes will come into force in two stages.

From 31 December 2023, it will be against the law in England and Wales to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully dog in public without a lead and muzzle (dogs must also be muzzled if they are travelling in a vehicle)

From 1 February 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a Certificate of Exemption.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published official guidance and people are urged to visit the government’s webpage on Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs for further information.

Those who own an XL Bully or a dog with XL Bully traits can now apply for a Certificate of Exemption online, by email, or post. Before applying, they must pay an application fee and have third party public liability insurance for banned breeds of dogs.

If applying via post or email, they will have to ensure the application is with DEFRA by 15 January 2024. If applying online, owners have until 12:00 pm on 31 January 2024.

The application form and more information is available on the DEFRA website at Apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep an XL Bully dog

Chief Inspector Col Rooney from Merseyside Police said, “We understand there will be some worried dog owners ahead of the new laws, especially those with XL bully type dogs in Merseyside. We want people to be able to keep their dogs, so would encourage owners to read and understand the DEFRA guidance and take the steps necessary to stay within the law.

“If you think your dog fits within the defined characteristics set out by government, or are aware your dog is an XL Bully, we would urge you to apply for an exemption certificate as soon as possible, ahead of the upcoming deadlines.

“We will continue to work closely with partners to promote responsible dog ownership and will be issuing additional guidance and reminders of the timeline of law changes in early January 2024.”

Image: Dlexus CC BY-SA 4.0

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