From the 31st December 2023, it will be against the law to sell, give away, abandon, breed or take an XL Bully dog out without a lead and a muzzle, and from 1st February 2024, owning an XL Bully dog will be illegal without a Certificate of Exemption.

This change, a consequence of the breed being added to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 list, means that many owners of the larger version of the American Bully breed need to apply for an extension form and ensure their dogs are on the pet microchip database or they will be committing a crime.

The government advises owners to err on the side of caution, so if they have American Bully puppies or young dogs that could potentially grow to meet the XL classification, owners should begin the process of applying for an exemption.

To apply, the owner needs to be over 16 years old and have appropriate third-party public liability insurance. The dog itself must be microchipped as are all dogs over eight weeks old, neutered, kept on a lead with a muzzle when in a public place and kept in a place secure enough to ensure it cannot escape.

This process also requires a non-refundable fee of £92.40 to be paid before the application is made, and whilst the dog does not need to be neutered before the form is sent off, it must be neutered by the end of June 2024 if the dog is over a year old and by the end of 2024 if younger than a year.

These rules also apply for rescue and rehoming centres, so shelters that take care of abandoned pets must similarly not take on any XL Bully dogs without a Certificate of Exemption and follow the rest of the rules including those regarding insurance and microchipping.

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