The Scottish government has confirmed that the first of a two-stage approach to new legal safeguards on XL Bullies will come into force on 23 February subject to parliamentary approval.
From this date, it will remain legal to own an XL Bully, but owners must ensure their dogs are muzzled and on a lead when in public. Selling, gifting or exchanging XL Bullies will also be prohibited.
Stage two of the new rules, which come into force from 31 July, will make it an offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate or having applied for an exemption certificate. This means existing XL Bully dog owners will need to consider whether they wish to keep their dogs and if so will have to apply and pay for an exemption permit by that date.
Full details as to what date applications for an exemption certificate will open, how to apply and the support available will be announced in the coming weeks.
Siobhian Brown, Minister for Victims & Community Safety, said: “The vast majority of dog owners are responsible animal lovers and we know owning a dog brings with it important responsibilities. I would encourage owners to make themselves aware of the new laws and get ready for them.”
The penalties available to a court upon conviction for breach of the new safeguards are up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5,000.
The definition to be used for an XL Bully dog is the same as used by the UK Government.
Local authorities have existing powers under the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 to serve Dog Control Notices that set out what dog owners must do to bring their dogs under control.