Charity's urgent appeal to rehome XL bully dogs

A Scottish animal welfare charity is urgently seeking homes for four XL bully-type dogs ahead of a government deadline amid fears they may have to be put down.

From 23 February, it will be an offence to breed, sell, exchange or abandon an XL bully dog.

Anyone who already owns an XL bully must keep their dog muzzled and on a lead when in a public place, including in a car, from that date.

The Scottish SPCA said the four dogs have had enhanced behavioural assessments as well as microchipping and neutering.

The charity's head of rehoming, fostering and community engagement, Jennie Macdonald, said: “As Scottish government advice stands at present, it will become illegal for us to rehome these dogs if they have not found homes by 23 February.

“Our four dogs at Aberdeenshire, Glasgow and Lanarkshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centres which meet or might meet the physical conformation standard of an XL bully type breed, Duchess, Praline, Paddington and Lex, have undergone enhanced behavioural assessments with our behaviour team.

“The process of ensuring they are ready for rehoming has been ongoing for some months while the situation in Scotland has been unclear. They have all been microchipped, neutered and given a clean bill of health."

The next phase of the Scottish government's two-stage approach to legal safeguards will come into force on 31 July when it will be an offence to own an XL bully without having or applied for an exemption certificate.

Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown outlined the changes in a letter to Holyrood's criminal justice committee.

The Scottish government has not yet made information available on the cost of an exemption certificate or how to apply.

Penalties for breaching the new safeguards are up to six months imprisonment and or a fine up to £5,000.

SSPCA head of animal behaviour, Claire Haynes said: “After an enhanced assessment, Duchess and Praline meet the physical conformation standards of an ‘XL bully type breed’. Paddington and Lex are still to be formally assessed, but could be typed as XL bully dogs.

“The new registered owners will be required to obtain a certificate of exemption and to comply with all necessary legal requirements, which will include keeping the dog on a lead and muzzled at all times when out in public, including in a car, and maintaining third party insurance.

“We continue to call for the principle of Deed not Breed to be applied, and for the outdated Dangerous Dogs legislation to be overhauled. Any breed of dog can be potentially out of control and dangerous in the wrong hands.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "We regularly consulted with the SSPCA and other stakeholders throughout the development of the new XL bully safeguards, and we will continue to do so to ensure everything is being done to implement them in the best way possible.

"The Scottish government was obliged to act to protect public safety and animal welfare as a consequence of the controls brought in by the UK government, which created the unacceptable risk of dogs being moved to Scotland from England and Wales."

Information on rehoming can be found on the Scottish SPCA website.