Home Secretary Suella Braverman is pushing for a ban on American bully XL dogs, arguing they are a “clear and lethal danger”, particularly to children.
The Cabinet minister announced she has commissioned “urgent advice” on outlawing the dogs after she highlighted an “appalling” attack on an 11-year-old girl in Birmingham.
However, adding dogs to the banned list is the responsibility of Environment Secretary Therese Coffey’s department, where the PA news agency understands there are concerns over the feasibility of adding the American Bully.
The dog is not a recognised as a specific breed by the Kennel Club. It could be hard to define and a ban could inadvertently outlaw a range of other dogs, some fear.
Ms Braverman seized on news that West Midlands Police was investigating after the girl and two men who intervened were injured in the incident in the Bordesley Green area on Saturday.
This is appalling. The American XL Bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children.
We can’t go on like this.
I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them.
— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) September 10, 2023
“This is appalling. The American XL Bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children,” Ms Braverman wrote on social media.
“We can’t go on like this.
“I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them.”
The advice was commissioned last week, an adviser said.
It is against the law to own, breed or sell dogs on the list drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
But it is also against the law to have a dog that is dangerously out of control, which can be punished by prison sentences and unlimited fines.
Emma Whitfield, the mother of 10-year-old Jack Lis – who died after being mauled by an American bully in Caerphilly, South Wales, has been calling for a change in the law.
Sir John Hayes, a close ally of Ms Braverman, has been pushing in the House of Commons for a ban on the dog he has claimed is “bred to kill”.
However, animal charities including the RSPCA have been pushing for an end to breed-specific bans which they say work against dogs perceived to be “dangerous” and lead to thousands of “innocent” animals being put down.
Instead they want to focus on individual actions and dangerous owners.
A Dogs Trust spokesman said: “Dogs Trust wants to see the current dog control laws replaced with one consolidated law that allows for early intervention with a focus on the prevention of dog bite incidents and includes measures that deter and punish owners of dogs whose behaviour is dangerous.
“We will continue to look for reform in existing dog control laws until we are satisfied that any new measures are preventative, breed-neutral and effective, and ultimately protect both dogs and people alike.”
There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK: the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro.
A Defra spokesman said: “We take dog attacks and anti-social behaviour very seriously and are making sure the full force of the law is being applied.
“This can range from lower-level Community Protection Notices – which require dog owners to take appropriate action to address behaviour – to more serious offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act, where people can be put in prison for up to 14 years, be disqualified from ownership or result in dangerous dogs being euthanised.”