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Thousands of XL Bully dogs saved from death after owners apply for exemptions

Revealed: Of the 26,586, 22,420 applications were successful and 4,166 were denied

Luke O'Reilly
PA
Friday 09 February 2024 13:24 GMT
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An XL Bully dog
An XL Bully dog (PA Wire)

Thousands of XL bully dogs have been spared death after their owners applied for exemptions.

Figures published by the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), following a freedom of information request, show that 26,586 exemption applications have been made by owners who wish to keep their XL bullies following the ban.

The news comes as police confirmed that the two dogs that fatally attacked a grandmother in Essex were XL bullies.

Esther Martin, 68, was killed at a house in Hillman Avenue, Jaywick, Essex, on Saturday.

She had reportedly tried to break up fighting puppies before she was attacked.

Esther Martin (PA)

Of the 26,586, 22,420 applications were successful and 4,166 were denied.

To qualify for an exemption certificate, owners must prove their XL bully has been neutered by June 30.

If they have a pup which is less than a year old on Wednesday, they must be neutered by the end of 2024, and evidence that they have done so must be provided.

As well as neutering their animals, XL bully owners seeking an exemption must pay an application fee, hold third party public liability insurance for their pets, and ensure the dogs are microchipped.

The total number of XL bullies has been estimated by animal groups at between 50,000 and 100,000, the RSPCA has said.

Asked to comment, Defra pointed to figures published last week that showed more than 35,000 dogs have been registered with full details of ownership provided.

In the accompanying statement, Defra said the ban delivers on the Government’s pledge to “take quick and decisive action to protect the public from devastating dog attacks”.

Since February 1 this year, it has been a criminal offence to own an XL bully in England and Wales without an exemption certificate.

Unregistered pets will be taken and owners possibly fined and prosecuted.

Seized dogs will be taken to kennels before a court decides if they should either be destroyed or deemed not a danger to public safety.

The ban follows a series of attacks on people.

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