Suella Braverman orders urgent advice on banning American bully XLs

 Suella Braverman orders urgent advice on banning American bully XLs

Suella Braverman orders urgent advice on banning American bully XLs

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is seeking "urgent advice" on banning "lethal" American bully XL dogs.

Her statement comes after footage was posted online of an attack on an 11-year-old girl in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, on Saturday.

Ana Paun, who said she was "terrified" and "screaming for help during the ordeal", called for a ban on the breed.

But some, including leading animal groups, argue that a breed specific ban is not the solution.

Ana's mother told the BBC her daughter spent a night in hospital and that she "thanked God" she was alive.

Two men who intervened were also bitten and treated in hospital. The crossbreed XL bully-Staffordshire bull terrier dog is being held in secure kennels and the owner has been spoken to by police.

Ms Braverman wrote on social media: "This is appalling. The American XL bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children.

"We can't go on like this. I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them."

The prime minister's spokesman described the Birmingham footage as "shocking", said the government took the issue "extremely seriously" and added that the law on dangerous dogs had been "toughened" in 2020.

The attack raised questions from victims about why the breed - which has already killed in the UK - had not been banned already.

But the Dog Control Coalition, a group including RSPCA, Battersea Dogs Home and the Royal Kennel Club, says banning specific breeds is not the solution - pointing to "irresponsible breeding, rearing and ownership".

Emma Whitfield, whose 10-year-old son Jack Lis was mauled to death in Caerphilly, Wales, in 2021, questioned why it had "taken this video and not a child's life to do something?"

"The government could have responded a lot sooner, I was in Parliament in March of this year speaking to MPs about why there should be changes in the law, they weren't interested then," she said.

"These dogs aren't cared for by the breeders, they just want money, so from the greed at the start, irresponsible ownership in the middle, we've got children dying."

The American bully XL is not subject to any legal restrictions in the UK but advice on a ban was commissioned last week, an adviser said.

Adding dogs to the banned list is the responsibility of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), and it is illegal to own, breed or sell dogs on that list.

But Barry Gardiner, Labour MP and member of the Common's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA), told BBC News he did not think it was right to ban the breed, saying it was about controlling owners.

His view is mirrored by the Dog Control Coalition, which argues that the Dangerous Dogs Act - which has focused on banning specific types - has coincided with a "a troubling increase in dog bites and fatalities".

A spokesperson said: "Sadly, the increased popularity of American XL bullies has made them valuable commodities, resulting in irresponsible breeding, rearing and ownership, which can all contribute to an increased likelihood of aggression in dogs, regardless of breed."

The coalition said the government should focus on the improvement and enforcement of current breeding and dog control regulations, and on promoting responsible dog ownership and training.

Jack Lis, American bully XL victim
Image caption,
Jack Lis was killed by an American bully XL in Caerphilly in 2021

The American bully XL is the largest variation of the American bully breed, a type of bulldog developed by breeding several dogs including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and English Bulldog.

The PA news agency reported that there were concerns over the feasibility of adding the American bully XL to the banned list.

The dog is not recognised as a specific breed by the Royal Kennel Club, the UK's largest organisation for breeding and welfare.

BBC Verify logo

How many people die because of dog bites?

  • Ten people died because of dog bite injuries in England and Wales last year
  • Numbers of attacks are rising. There were 8,819 admissions to hospitals in England with dog bites last year. There were 4,699 in 2007
  • Four dog breeds are banned in the UK - the Pit bull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro
  • Dogs that share physical characteristics to banned breeds, such as cross-breeds, are also banned
  • Owning a banned dog can result in an unlimited fine and a prison sentence of up to six months
  • Read government guidance on dog ownership for more information.

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People have been telling the BBC how they feel about bully XLs

"They hurt my husband's arm and crushed my dog. What sort of dog should be roaming the streets like that? If was a child it would be dead. I hate them. They ruined our lives" - Pam, from Doncaster and whose dog was attacked by two American bullies, told BBC Radio 5 Live

"I took my dog and my baby on a walk and this dog just got out and went for me. My dog got away so it went for me again. I was really lucky because I got saved by a lorry driver. If it wasn't for him I would probably be in a very, very different condition" - Katie, from Doncaster, who was injured by a bully XL three weeks ago, told 5 Live

"She's just the sloppiest, dopiest dog I've ever owned. She's great with other people, her only downside is she gets excited when she sees people" - Charlotte Towner told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat

"I'm not bothered by children running around near him because I have trained him very well. They are so loving. They are known as a family dog" - American bully owner Mollie told Newsbeat


A Defra spokesman said: "We take dog attacks and anti-social behaviour very seriously and are making sure the full force of the law is being applied.

"This can range from lower-level Community Protection Notices - which require dog owners to take appropriate action to address behaviour - to more serious offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act, where people can be put in prison for up to 14 years, be disqualified from ownership or result in dangerous dogs being euthanised."

Additional reporting by Doug Faulkner

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