David Martin testifying at the committee

American XL Bully ban plan presents ‘significant problems’, senior vet warns

Legislating for and implementing a ban on American XL Bully dogs could pose ‘significant problems’, an emergency select committee session in Westminster heard on 18 October.

Speaking to MPs at a hearing of the environment, food and rural affairs committee, a series of experts highlighted areas of concern in enforcing the ban, which was announced last month by the Government.

Samantha Gaines, Head of Companion Animals at the RSPCA, said: “Determining whether or not the dogs that have been involved in the serious incidents or fatalities as American bully XLs is actually really difficult. Accurate breed identification is notoriously difficult.

“There are certainly some cases where it has been suggested that the dog that was involved was an American bully XL. There are then question marks around whether that is indeed the case.

“We have to be quite careful when we’re talking about American bully XLs there is no certainty that the fatality reported involving that dog actually has.”

Meanwhile, David Martin, IVC Evidensia’s group animal welfare advisor, warned that potential requirements – such as large-scale neutering of affected dogs – would represent a “mountain” to climb for vets, who are already under pressure.

He added that most vet practices would only be able to carry out one neutering procedure per day on dogs as large as the XL bully.

Speaking on the aspect of euthanasing dogs, Martin explained that a number of vets would be uncomfortable destroying healthy animals at the request of their owners. He added: “We are allowed to refuse to euthanise a healthy animal under our code of conduct and as a business, we support all our vets who refuse to euthanise a healthy animal. So I think we’re going to have significant problems.”

Gaines also argued that she had concerns about the emotional impact on staff caring for dogs that could be killed after being outlawed.

She said: “If we end up in a situation where we have to assess and take dogs and then euthanise them, that is going to come at a huge cost to the emotional wellbeing of our staff, and we do expect to lose staff over this.”

However, Lawrence Newport, a lecturer in law at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the co-founder of the Campaign for Evidence-Based Regulation of Dangerous Dogs, said that a “snapshot” freedom of information investigation of 15 police forces by his group in August found that 30% of police seizures were of XL bully dogs.

But, in her opening remarks, Gaines had argued that the evidence used “to push that breed ban is lacking in depth, in authority, in objectivity, and also in quality”.



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