In the wake of the recent announcement of the XL Bully ban by the government, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is facilitating a crucial discussion on the complexities of dealing with ‘dangerous dogs’ and the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation.

The BVA Congress session, titled “Breed or Deed? Unpicking the complexities of ‘dangerous’ dogs,” is set to be a focal point during this week’s London Vet Show. Chaired by BVA Junior Vice President Dr Elizabeth Mullineaux, the session brings together a diverse panel of experts from political, legal, veterinary, behavioural, and animal rescue backgrounds.

The panel includes Dr Neil Hudson, Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border; Dr Sam Gaines, Head of Companion Animals at the RSPCA; Cat Henstridge, a first opinion vet, and social media influencer known as “Cat The Vet”; as well as Trevor Cooper from Cooper & Co Solicitors.

Backdrop: XL Bully Ban and Rising Incidents

The debate follows the government’s announcement in September regarding the XL Bully ban, a response to a surge in serious dog bite incidents. The proposed laws, laid in Parliament on 31 October, aim to make it illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon, or allow XL Bully dogs to stray in England and Wales from 31 December.

While the move has garnered support, a significant number of animal welfare and veterinary organizations, including the Dog Control Coalition (of which BVA is a member), have also raised concerns about its long-term effectiveness. Advocates for a comprehensive approach to dog control emphasize addressing the root problems of unscrupulous breeding and irresponsible ownership.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Dr Mullineaux highlighted the complexity of dog aggression and bite incidents, stressing that there are no easy answers or quick-fix solutions. With the addition of a fifth breed type to the banned list and a continual rise in dog bites, the discussion aims to carefully consider the short and longer-term consequences of the decision. Dr Mullineaux encourages veterinary colleagues to attend the London Vet Show for what promises to be a crucial and informative debate.

The session will take place on Friday, 17 November 2023, at 1.45 pm at the BVA Congress Theatre. Attendees of the London Vet Show are welcome to participate in BVA Congress sessions and visit the BVA stand at M70 throughout the event.