A police chief has warned the XL bully dog ban, which began overnight, poses “logistical challenges” for officers. Mark Hobrough, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said the ban could spark higher demand for kennel space before court decisions. A dangerous dog expert fears the ban will also compound an existing shortage of trained officers.
The government says police will be supported and officers given extra training to identify XL bullies. New laws banning the breed in England and Wales take effect from Thursday.
For some months, owners have been able to apply for an exemption certificate if they can prove their dog had been neutered before a specific date. They were also required to pay an application fee, hold liability insurance for their dog, and ensure it was microchipped.
More than 35,000 dogs are now registered for exemption but those owners without could face a criminal record and unlimited fine. The RSPCA has said tens of thousands of XL bullies may not have certificates with the estimated total in the UK ranging from 50,000 to 100,000.
XL bullies that are seized under the new law will be taken to kennels before a court decides they should either be destroyed or deemed safe.
Mr Hobrough, an assistant chief constable, said police forces were “actively looking to enhance” the numbers kennels can hold to cope with expected higher demand and “logistical challenges” for officers.
The government said ministers met police chiefs this week to discuss their preparations. Debbie Connolly, a dog behaviourist who acts as an expert witness in dangerous dog court cases, said she feared the ban would be difficult to enforce.
She said it would “compound” the existing problems caused by the small numbers of officers trained specifically on dog legislation, and a lack of kennel space. If officers are now told to go out and look for unmuzzled XL bullies, something will have to give,” Ms Connolly told the BBC.
There are 137 dog legislation officers across the country, with at least one in every force. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is responsible for animal welfare, said these officers will be given extra training to help successfully identify the XL bully breed.
Ms Connolly said there had been an “endless influx” of people asking her training firm SafePets UK, for help over the last two or three weeks. She said “hundreds” of pictures of dogs have been sent in and “the worrying part is a good 90% of them we didn’t think were XL dogs”.
In other news – North London MP Mike Freer to step down over safety fears
A minister says he will stand down at the next general election after a series of death threats and an arson attack on his constituency office. Mike Freer, a justice minister and also north London MP, said he avoided being murdered “by the skin of my teeth” by Ali Harbi Ali, who went on to kill Southend West MP Sir David Amess.
Mr Freer has represented Finchley and Golders Green since 2010. Read more