'We should not be demonizing a particular breed,' says leading Northern Ireland animal charity as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vows to impose ban on American XL bully dogs

An American Bully XL (Photo: Yorkshire Post)
An American Bully XL (Photo: Yorkshire Post)

Rishi Sunak on Friday said the dogs will be banned by the end of the year in response to a series of attacks.

The Prime Minister made the promise after it emerged a man had died after being attacked by two dogs – suspected to be bully XLs – in Birmingham and following a video of another attack that went viral when an 11-year-old girl suffered serious injuries.

Due to the dog not being recognised as a specific breed by The Kennel Club, he has ordered ministers to bring together police and experts to define the breed of dog behind these attacks so they can then be outlawed.

However, there are fears it could be hard to define and therefore it could inadvertently lead to an outlaw of a range of other dogs.

A spokesperson for the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) remarked that legislation is needed for "responsible dog ownership rather than punishing individual dogs for the way they look."

A statement read: "Unfortunately this is a knee-jerk response from the Prime Minister. It’s a quick and popular decision, but it’s not the right decision.

"The USPCA do not believe the solution lies in simply banning more dogs. We believe focusing on the type of dog, rather than their individual actions, is a flawed and failing approach. It has not worked for 32 years when this legislation was first introduced.

"We should not be demonizing a particular breed. It is also important to highlight that the number of dog attacks in NI has not increased. Though one dog attack is one to many.

"Therefore, we would like to see a bigger focus on legislation that ensures responsible dog ownership rather than punishing individual dogs for the way they look if they haven't harmed anyone."

The charity also stated that dogs are sometimes being trained to be "as aggressive as possible" and the breeders are more often than not "part of organised crime groups" who are responsible for other acts of cruelty such as badger baiting and dog fighting.

A spokesperson continued: "The PM’s statement today, is a headline that will not solve the challenges of dog attacks. We fully support legislation that protects the public, however this is not the correct response.

"We would urge government to place focus on the strengthening and enforcement of current breeding and dog control regulations, as well as the promotion of responsible dog ownership and training."