A controversial ruling which will see the XL Bully dog breed banned at the end of December has meant many rescue centres could face putting down dozens of dogs.

As of December 31, 2023, it will be illegal to buy, sell or breed dogs falling into the XL Bully category.

It comes as a series of dog attacks have been linked to the breed and led Rishi Sunak to make a public pledge to ban the breed in September. This has since been passed in parliament.

Soon after the Dog Control Coalition, made up of the RSPCA, Blue Cross, Battersea, Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, Scottish SPCA, The Kennel Club and BVA advocated against the ban, stating: "Banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring." 

They urged the government to instead take action against unscrupulous breeding and irresponsible owners.

However last month Dogs Trust, which has a base in Newbury, confirmed that it had already stopped re-homing the breed.

Battersea Old Windsor has shared how the team is struggling to come to terms with the news of the ban and what it will mean for the dogs in its care.

A spokesperson for Battersea said: "We are here to support all current and prospective owners of XL Bullys to make sure they are fully informed on the implications a ban could have, such as being required to go through the legal exemption process.

"We are also regularly updating our advice on our website, including around muzzle training and neutering, both of which are among the stipulations of the exemption.

"As with any other banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act, to comply with the law, we will sadly no longer be able to rehome any dogs deemed to be an XL Bully after December 31, 2023.” 

When asked what this would mean for dogs left in Battersea's care, the spokesperson added: "We are still processing the Government’s latest guidance and the implications this will have on the dogs in our care.

"However we do know that it will be illegal to rehome, sell, buy or transfer ownership of an XL Bully dog to another person.

"This means that as a rescue and rehoming organisation, Battersea won’t be able to rehome any XL Bullies in our care or brought into us after that date."

In the meantime, the dog and cat rescue charity has confirmed it is continuing to take in XL Bullys, but were unable to confirm if centres could be forced to put down dogs under this breed come December.

Dr Samantha Gaines, a dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, is urging the UK Government to provide more information and clarity over the ban.

Dr Gaines said: “Already, there are anecdotal reports of dogs being surrendered or abandoned across the rescue sector - and we fear as the deadline for the Bully XL dog looms, this problem is going to get worse.

“While we are doing all we can to reassure owners, there remains confusion around the UK Government's definition of a Bully XL and the exemption process, which will allow owners to legally keep their dogs.

“This situation not only remains devastating for so many dogs, but is also taking a heavy toll on owners, on rescue centre staff who have grown close to dogs in their care, and to vets who face the prospect of being asked to put to sleep healthy dogs whose behaviour poses no risk.

“There is a huge risk that rescue centres and the veterinary profession will not be able to cope with the demands put on them by this law. We urgently need more information, clarity and support from the UK Government to prepare for what is coming next.”

We are looking to speak to XL Bully owners, rescue centre workers, volunteers and vets about the impact of the XL Bully ban. If this is you please get in touch with daisy.waites@newsquest.co.uk