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Exemption from the impending ban granted to thousands of XL bully dogs

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Thousands of XL bully owners have been told they will not need to put down their dogs when a ban on the breed comes into force next year.

Government department Defra has revealed it has already received more than 4,000 applications from people wanting an exemption - and confirmed to Sky News the "majority" had been approved.

There are less than two weeks to go before the first in a series of new rules surrounding the animals, which are being phased in over the coming months, come into force.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the restrictions on XL bullies earlier this year after branding the breed a "danger to communities" following a string of attacks on humans - including some that were fatal.

From 31 December, XL bully dogs will no longer be allowed out in public unless they are muzzled and placed on a lead.

Breeding, selling, advertising, rehoming, abandoning and allowing one of the dogs to stray will also become illegal in England and Wales from that date.

A complete ban on people owning XL bullies will then come into force on 1 February 2024 - unless the owner applies before the end of January - just six weeks away - for an exemption which would allow them to keep their pet.

An exemption certificate can only be obtained if a household agrees to comply with a strict set of rules, including having the animals microchipped.

The dogs will also need to be neutered by 30 June, unless they are under one year old.

Defra has not said exactly how many dogs have been granted an exemption so far.

But a spokesperson confirmed: "[The] majority of applications are successful and the majority of successful applicants are receiving their certificates in less than a week."

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Owners who are not granted an exemption can claim £200 towards the cost of their pet being euthanised by a vet. Rescue and rehoming organisations can also claim £100 per animal.

The government's website states "the euthanasia must be performed by 31 January 2024" for a financial claim to be successful.

At least 246 of the dogs are set to be put down as a result of the change in the law, Sky News revealed last month.

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Hundreds of XL bully dogs to be put down

It comes as the UK's chief vet issued a warning on Monday for owners not to risk leaving it too late to get ready for the changes.

Dr Christine Middlemiss said: "Owners should read the guidance and ensure they are ready to comply with the new rules...

"Please do not risk leaving it to the last minute if you want to keep your dog, you should apply now for a Certificate of Exemption."

She added: "We recommend a precautionary approach - if you are unsure if your dog is an XL bully or whether any puppies may grow up to be of this dog type, you should comply with the relevant requirements and restrictions."

The government has said the ban is essential to "protect the public from tragic dog attacks".

But some campaigners and animal groups have criticised both the timing and details of the restrictions - including claims that it is difficult to identify whether a dog belongs to the XL bully breed.


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