WITH the introduction of the XL Bully ban in England and Wales, the countdown is now on for owners to comply with the new legislation.

PDSA Vet Lynne James shares a breakdown of the timeline impacting owners, plus some key information, as well as some of the charity’s concerns:

“The timeline of the ban is one of the most important factors, as owners in England and Wales don’t have long to ensure they comply with the new rules.

* Right now, all XL Bully type dogs must wear a muzzle and kept on a lead in public. It is now illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow an XL Bully type dog to stray.

* Owners can no longer apply for a Certificate of Exemption by email or post (deadline was January 15). The only way to apply is through the Government website. The deadline to apply is midday on January 31.

* From February 1, XL Bully type dogs must have a Certificate of Exemption.

* By June 30, all XL Bully type dogs over one-year-old on January 31 must be neutered.

* By December 31, all XL Bully dogs under one-year-old on January 31, must be neutered.

Although there is now a ban the current population of XL Bully type dogs is going to be around for years to come. The average lifespan is 10-12 years. The Government has determined the physical characteristics which will decide if a dog fits the XL Bully ‘breed type’. Owners are responsible for determining if their dog is classified as an XL Bully type , and whether to apply for an Exemption. All owners of dogs deemed to fit the type will need to follow the guidance. Owners found not complying may face a criminal record and a fine and their dog could be seized. In some cases, dogs may be put to sleep by the authorities.

We maintain our position that Breed Specific Legislation is not the right course of action to protect the public. In addition to our concerns about this rushed through legislation, the timeline is adding pressure on owners. Recent years have been financially tough, with PDSA seeing an increase in demand. Finding funds to cover the cost of an Exemption, as well as what’s needed to comply, including neutering, won’t be easy for many. It leaves animal charities like PDSA left to pick up the pieces. We’re also concerned that the potential stigma of owning a ‘banned breed’ could lead to owners feeling unable to walk/socialise their dogs. This will have a severe negative impact on the welfare of these dogs.

PDSA’s main focus remains supporting owners, with our aim to keep people and pets together. Visit pdsa.org.uk/XLbully