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Aberdeen American bully XL owners left in distress and uncertainty

Animal charities have also joined calls condemning the action. 

Chance the American bully XL
Heartbroken and frustrated owners have been reacting to Rishi Sunak's announcement today. Image: Leillah Ewen

Owners of the breed have been left furious and in tears following an earlier announcement American bully XLs will be outlawed.

The UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, declared the UK government’s plan today after a spate of recent dog attacks.

It follows after a man died yesterday from two dogs believed to be American bully XLs. It is the second attack this week.

Aberdeen owners of the pet have been left dismayed and angry over the announcement with animal charities joining calls condemning the action.

‘He’s my best friend’

Ryhs Irvine, owner of two-year-old XL bully Boss, said he was “pretty furious”.

He said: “I don’t see why it’s fair to pick a certain breed of dog to put down.

“That video with the dogs with people getting injured down in England it’s not a nice thing to see but it’s all down to the owner it’s not the dog’s fault.

Ryhs Irvine with Boss his two-year-old American bully XL
Ryhs Irvine with his two-year-old American bully XL Boss. Image: Ryhs Irvine

“I never want to lose my dog, he’s like my best friend. A lot of people are going to be angry hearing the news about it.

“Not every dog is the same. Everyone’s got their own opinion. Some people will agree with what I’m saying, others won’t.”

Many commenting on the news online in the north-east were also blaming owner behaviour for the attacks. Several petitions against the ban have already been launched.

Describing Boss as a “lazy, friendly doggy” the Mastrick resident said: “I’ve got a two-year-old stepdaughter and he’s really good with her.

“He never barks, he never growls. He’s a big softy. I know every dog is different and you do get different owners and stuff but he’s the friendliest dog I’ve ever seen to be fair.”

He is the same friendly dog as he was before the ban

Another owner of a dog called Chance, Leillah Ewen who spoke to The Press and Journal earlier this week, was in tears when speaking about the ban.

“It’s pretty upsetting,” she said. “I think I’m just angry more than anything.

“I just feel like the majority of XL dog owners like myself are being penalised because of a minority that obviously don’t treat their dogs the way I treat my dog and care about their dogs the way I care about my dog. It’s just infuriating.”

Leillah Ewen's American bully XL Chance
Chance the American bully XL. Image: Leillah Ewen

With some people already crossing the street when they see her walking Chance, Ms Ewen said she hoped the announcement would not heighten people’s fear.

“They’ll probably be even worse now but I cannae not walk my dog,” said the air traffic controller.

“He’s still the same dog that I’ve had for the last two years that’s never showed any sign of aggression and never barked at another dog.”

What does the ban mean?

Animal charities and critics have hit out at the government for the lack of detail in the proposed ban causing many owners distress and uncertainty.

Under current law, the are four types of breeds outlawed in the UK. After a a similar spate of attacks from pitbull terriers in the 90s, the Dangerous Dogs Act was put in place.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak made the announcement on X, formerly Twitter today. Image: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Shutterstock

However, experts have said the law focuses mainly on the physical appearance rather than behaviour.

This can result in dogs meeting a number or all the listed characteristics for “pitbull terriers” being unfairly seized and their behaviour monitored in “stressful and abnormal” conditions.

Those who display bad behaviour are destroyed while the most well-behaved dogs are released to their owners. But there remains a huge set of conditions and the animal has a lot of its freedoms removed.

Adding another banned breed could mean many more dogs – not just necessarily American bully XLs – are in danger.

Two American bully Xls
Under current law, dogs can be seized based on appearances rather than genetics. Image: Leillah Ewen

Animal charities slam already ‘unworkable’ legislation

Animal charities have also joined together to express their opposition to the ban.

In a released joint statement including the Scottish SPCA and The Kennel Club, they stated the law under the Dangerous Dogs Act is already “unworkable”.

The charities stated: “The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.

“The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public – but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.

“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working.

“The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.”

Would Rishi Sunak’s XL Bully ban apply in Scotland?