XL bully owner felt 'worse' for following law

Ellee Keegan and Costa

Ellee Keegan described her dog Costa as the “biggest softie”

An owner of an XL bully said she felt “even worse” after registering her dog as dangerous to comply with new laws banning the breed.

The ban came into effect on Thursday following what the government called the breed’s disproportionate involvement in fatal dog attacks.

Exemptions may apply, however, subject to registration, but Ellee Keegan said having completed the process it was “really sad to admit he is a dangerous dog when he is not”.

In England and Wales, police can now seize the breed if unregistered, with owners facing a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they do not have an exemption certificate that proves their dog has been neutered.

Owners have been able to apply for an exemption certificate for some months.

Those doing so have also been required to pay an application fee, hold liability insurance for their dog, and ensure it has been microchipped.

So far, more than 30,000 XL bullies are registered for exemption but the breed’s true number is thought to be much higher.

Ms Keegan, from Rubery, Worcestershire, described her pet Costa as the “biggest softie”.

She told BBC Hereford and Worcester: “It felt daunting to think that my dog is now a number on a dangerous dogs list.”

Steve Constantinou, a Coventry-based dog trainer and owner of three XL bully dogs, said irresponsible owners could simply move to another breed of large and powerful dog.

After registering Costa, Ms Keegan was also required to fit him with a muzzle when out on walks.

“It is heart-breaking,” Ms Keegan said, “because he is a big dog and big dogs need a lot of exercise.

“He plays with sticks and balls, and now he does not understand why he can’t.”

Ms Keegan added the metal muzzle – which cost £50 – caused panic among other dog owners as it made them think he was a threat.

However, Dr Chris Dixon, owner of Wye Valley vets in Hereford, described the ban as useful.

“The difference with an XL bully is the sheer size,” he said.

“If they are neglected and then they are aggressive it is very different to a Pomeranian that has been neglected then becomes aggressive.”

Steve Constantinou

Dog trainer Steve Constantinou warns the issue could arise in other dog breeds

Those who opt not to keep their XL bully must take them to a registered vet to be euthanised – they cannot legally be rehomed.

Dr Dixon said he had already euthanised two XL bullies with one having been put down due to its own owner becoming scared of it.

Mr Constantinou, told BBC CWR training was key to combat irresponsible owners.

“Mandatory training should be a must and a dog licence is the way forward,” he said.

“All that will happen now is the irresponsible dog owners will move on to the next breed and this will be the Cane Corso or Presa Canario, which are larger breeds than the XL bully and more issues will arise.”

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