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First person in England sentenced for keeping illegal XL Bully under new laws

Patrick McKeown, 40, kept the dog at an address in central Worthing, Sussex

Jabed Ahmed
Tuesday 02 April 2024 13:49
RSPCA call for different approach as XL bully dog ban comes into effect

A dog owner has become the first to be sentenced for illegally possessing an XL Bully dog in breach of new laws.

Patrick McKeown, 40, is the first known person to be prosecuted under the laws which came into force on 1 February.

McKeown failed to apply for an exemption for his XL Bully, and also did not neuter the dog or obtain insurance.

It was reported that the dog was also seen loose in the backyard of the property in Worthing, West Sussex, police said.

McKeown warned officers his dog would attack anyone who approached it. Officers executed a warrant at the address and the dog was seized.

The former builder admitted one count of possessing or having a fighting dog, contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act, at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on March 12.

McKeown failed to apply for an exemption for his XL Bully, did not neuter the dog, and did not obtain insurance (Stock image/PA wire)

The court imposed a one-year community order, requiring him to complete 100 hours of unpaid work. McKeown was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £114 surcharge.

The court imposed an order for the destruction of the dog, pending an appeal.

Chief inspector Simon Starns, who is the force lead for responding to dangerous dogs, said: “This was one of the first cases of its type to be prosecuted in Sussex.

“It demonstrates to the public that owners have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with the new laws which are now in force.

“We continue to work closely with partners to ensure dogs are kept safe through responsible ownership and to reduce the risk to the public.

“We continue to ask all dog owners to comply with Government guidance on the ownership of the XL Bully breed of dog.

“This includes ensuring that all XL Bully breed dogs are muzzled and kept on a lead held by someone aged over 16 when in public places.”

It became a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales without a certificate from 1 February.

It follows restrictions which came into force at the end of last year which mean the dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.

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