The environment secretary has said the UK Government is “pretty close” to bringing forward its proposed ban on American XL bullies following a spate of attacks attributed to the dog type.
Therese Coffey said she thought a “good definition” of the dog type had been agreed, with only a “few other things” such as compensation needing to be signed-off.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced last month that his administration would ban the dogs by the end of the year by adding them to the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Last week, a 60-year-old woman in Brisley, Norfolk, was mauled by her own XL bully dog, which escaped and then had to be destroyed.
Earlier this month, 54-year-old Ian Langley died after being assaulted by an XL in Sunderland while out walking his own puppy.
Ms Coffey, giving evidence to the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, told MPs: “I believe we have got a good definition.
“I really had hoped we could get sorted more quickly and we are very close to that.
“It is just a few other things, including aspects of compensation and some other things that we need to make sure are in place and ready to rock and roll.”
Not all animal charities are in favour of a ban, with the Environment Secretary confirming that the RSPCA had pulled out of a consultation about the definition of the dog type.
The animal welfare charity is part of the Dog Control Coalition, along with the likes of the Dogs Trust and the British Veterinary Association, which put out a statement following Mr Sunak’s announcement, arguing that a ban “will sadly not stop” the attacks.
Critics of Mr Sunak’s proposal have argued that the XL bully is not strictly a breed and would be difficult to define.
Asked about the RSPCA no longer being involved in the definition process, the senior Conservative Party minister said it had been “made very clear” to participants that “it was not a case that we were inviting them in to discuss whether or not this would go ahead”.
“That decision will be made by Parliament,” she continued during her evidence session on Tuesday.
“What we wanted and were keen to have is discussion around aspects of definitions and potentially some aspects of that. And they were at some meetings but you’re right they have chosen not to continue.
“I believe we are… in a good place of having agreed a definition.
“Of course we’ve also involved local authorities and police in particular.
“We are pretty close to being able to proceed with the legislation and the guidance that would go alongside that in terms of practical implementation.”
The Cabinet minister said she knew some XL bullies were “seen as genuinely valued pets” and that strict conditions were being readied to allow those owners to continue to keep any existing animals affected by the prohibition.
“I think we will be wanting to make sure things like muzzling, being put on leads in public – that is going to be the principal impact of the legislation,” Ms Coffey continued.
“You won’t be able to sell, breed those sorts of elements.”
Ms Coffey said “we don’t know how many XL bullies there are in the country”.
But she went on to say that the UK Government estimated there were about 10,000, while the Blue Cross animal charity suggested it was more like 15,000.
“It is challenging to judge,” she added.
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