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Man drives 200 miles to Scottish Borders to save XL Bully dogs before ban

It’s now illegal to breed, sell, advertise, gift and exchange XL Bully dogs in England and Wales

Alex Ross
Tuesday 02 January 2024 00:24 GMT
RSPCA call for different approach as XL bully dog ban comes into effect

An XL Bully lover drove more than 200 miles on New Year’s Eve to rehome dogs in Scotland - just hours before a ban on the breed was introduced in England and Wales.

From midnight on Sunday, 31 December, American XL bullies must be muzzled and kept on a lead in public. It’s now also illegal to breed, sell, advertise, gift, exchange, and abandon the dogs or let them stray.

It comes before a ban on the breed without an excemption certificates in February.

The change in legislation has gone through Parliament despite strong opposition, including from charities and dog owners who say a restriction based on breeds will not tackle a rise in attacks.

Among those against the ban is Sammy Wilkinson, from Tipton in the Black Country, West Midlands. He’s taken around 30 of the dogs for rehoming to Scotland, where the change in law does not apply.

Sammy Wilkinson drove two dogs from his home in the West Midlands to Scotland where new rules on the breed don’t apply (Sammy Wilkinson / Facebook)

On New Year’s Eve, just hours before the ban, he shared a picture on social media with him in a car with two dogs. He wrote: “I’m absolutely exhausted and my car is falling apart but you’re not killing these Rishi Sunak, now it’s a race to the Scottish Border before midnight.”

Support has come in Mr Wilkinson from across the country. A Go Fund Me page set up to help him has raised almost £9,000. Organiser Lisa wrote: “I’m putting this fundraiser together for Sammy Wilkinson. In hope that we can raise some money to help Sammy in saving even more XL Bullies.

“Sammy is currently driving Day and Night from the Black Country to Scotland, each time taking a group of XL bullies with him and finding them new homes in Scotland.About 30 dogs so far he’s saved and he’s still going!

“Sammy will continue to do this for as long as he can. Please everyone let’s support him and lets help save more XL Bullies.”

In response to the money raised, Mr Wilkinson posted on his social media on Tuesday evening that the money would be used to help people apply for exemption certificates and muzzles for their XL Bullys.

XL bully dogs will be banned from February following a series of attacks (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

He added: “No matter how little you gave, just know you are hugely appreciated and if it wasn’t for people like you supplying the frontlines from behind the scenes none of this would be possible.”

XL Bullies joined American pitbull terriers, Japanese tosas, dogo Argentinos and fila Brasileiros on the list of banned breeds on the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The decision to outlaw ownership came after a rise in dog attacks. But many have said the breeds are not to blame, and have called on the government to instead focus on owners, dog licencing and training.

From 1 February, XL Bully owners will need a certificate of exemption which have to be applied for before 31 January.

Environment secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘The Prime Minister pledged to take quick and decisive action to protect the public from devastating dog attacks with measures in place by the end of 2023.

“We have met that pledge – it is now a legal requirement for XL Bully dogs to be muzzled and on a lead in public. It is also now illegal to breed, sell, advertise, gift, exchange, abandon or let XL Bully dogs stray.”

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