Ministers have rejected calls to ban a dog breed which was responsible for killing seven people in just 12 months.
The XL Bully, which is closely related to the already-banned Pit Bull Terrier, has become infamous in the UK in recent years for being the breed behind scores of dog attacks and there have been widespread calls to have them outlawed.
Home Office minister Chris Philp accepted last month that something needs to be done about the breed “because it’s just not acceptable to have seven people last year killed by this one dog” and said a full ban was being considered.
It followed calls from his own backbenchers and MPs from across Parliament, as well as from police forces, to add XL Bully’s to the list of banned breeds.
The dog breed has been linked to numerous deaths in recent years, including 17-month-old girl Bella-Rae Birch, 10-year-old Jack Lis and several adults.
Senior Tory MP Sir John Hayes said in June that “no debate” needed that the American Bully XL must be banned and South Yorkshire Police echoed his calls, saying it had dealt with 180 reports of out of control dogs in 2023 and a disproportionate amount involved the breed.
Philp said the breed was “something that we want to act on sooner rather than later because it is dangerous”.
But environment minister Lord Benyon, asked by a Conservative peer what consideration had been given to the proposed ban, said: “We currently have no plans to add additional breed types to the banned breed list.”
In his written ministerial statement, published on August 3, Lord Benyon insisted the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs is “making sure enforcement measures are fully utilised for all breeds of dog”.
He pointed to already existing pieces of legislation which make it illegal to “allow any dog to be dangerously out of control in any place”, but police officers have said that is not enough.
Assistant chief constable Dan Thorpe, from South Yorkshire Police, said in June that “it doesn’t seem right that police have no powers to intervene until an attack is underway”.
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“We can’t ignore the fact that the XL bully breed is disproportionately represented in the number of dog attacks we attend,” he said.
“In the time it takes us to get there, any one of those incidents could easily result in serious injury or even death. We have already seen a fatality in South Yorkshire which has devastated the victims loved ones and the wider community.
“Without action, we can expect the danger posed by certain breeds to only get worse.”
There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK, the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.
On calls to ban XL Bullies, minister Philp told LBC in July: “We need to do something specifically about the Bully XL because it’s just not acceptable to have seven people last year killed by this one dog.
“Even though this particular breed is a tiny fraction of all dogs in the country, they make up a significant portion – somewhere between a quarter and a half – of all dogs that the police have to seize.”