Last victim of a legally kept American Bully XL in Scotland may be the owner
LONDON, England; EDINBURGH, Scotland––Who will be the last victim and the last owner of a legally possessed American Bully XL pit bull in England and Scotland?
If the bans are actually enforced to the letter, one William Hunter of Hamilton, Scotland, appears to stand a good chance of being both.
Recounted Glasgow Daily Record reporter Lynn Love on January 25, 2024, three days after the incident, “Closed circuit television footage shows bully dog Zeus wagging his tail moments before lunging at his owner,” Hunter, who suffered “serious lower limb injuries” while pulling Zeus away from another man.
Shot four times to end attack
“Hunter, thought to be in his late 40s, rescued Zeus from England only two weeks prior, following a ban on XL bullies,” Lynn Love added.
Hunter had apparently stopped at the Day Today convenience store to buy beer.
“I phoned the police,” an anonymous witness told Love. “When they came the dog was still attacking anyone who went near. One of the guys managed to get away, but the owner was still being attacked. Police showed up and tasered him, but he still wouldn’t stop. Then armed police came and he was shot four times. The first two shots didn’t take him out. If he hadn’t been killed, he would have killed someone.”
“Earlier maimed a man”
Zeus earlier “maimed a man in the Loudonhill Avenue area of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, before savaging Hunter in nearby Tinto View,” updated John James for The Daily Mail a day later.
“Footage from the Day Today convenience store shows the other man believed to have been attacked limp hurriedly into the store to seek help; he can clearly be seen struggling to run,” James wrote. “The other victim, named locally as neighbor Michael McCafferty, was treated at nearby Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride.”
Zeus went berserk only one day after Norman Silvester and Ruaraidh Britton of Aberdeen Live on January 21, 2024 reported that “An American XL Bully dog mauled two pensioners in Aberdeen and left one needing surgery.
“Gumma” injured caretakers
“Gumma,” the American XL Bully pit bull’s name, “attacked a 73-year-old man and his 70-year-old wife at a house in Dyce,” Silvester and Britton said, “earlier this month while the couple, who have not been named, visited the house of a relative,” identified as Jack Watson, 23, “who was on holiday.
“They went to check on the animal,” who escaped from a cage “and attacked them, leaving the man with serious injuries to his arms and face.”
Both victims were “taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for treatment,” Silvester and Britton learned.
Scottish Parliament dithered
Both American Bully XL attacks occurred after the Scottish Parliament dithered for more than three months after the United Kingdom banned the American Bully XL from England and Wales, instead of promptly endorsing the ban into law in Scotland as well.
“Rescuers” during the delay drove hundreds of dogs fitting the American Bully XL description into Scotland for rehoming or sanctuary care, though a scheme to start a sanctuary specifically to house several hundred American Bully XLs was apparently killed by local opposition.
One Sammy Wilkerson “transported around 30 XL bullies to Scotland” by himself, reported Ross Hunter of The National, driving all night to do it.
British “Bully XL” invasion
Scotland prime minister Humza Yousaf on January 18, 2024 at last announced that his government would also ban American Bully XL pit bull variants in response to “a flow of XL Bully dogs coming to Scotland, [and] a number of people coming to Scotland to bring XL Bully dogs here to the country.”
“The Scottish government’s current plan,” reported Amber Allott for National World, “is to ‘replicate’ the English and Welsh ban. Scotland will also be looking to make improvements to its own 2010 Control of Dogs Act.
“In the U.K.,” Allott noted, “this meant that the government had to establish a set of guidelines as to which dogs met the XL Bully criteria, given that American bullies are crossbreds, not recognized by the British Kennel Club. It is currently unknown whether Scotland will use these guidelines, which are based on physical characteristics rather than breeding or DNA, or develop their own.
“It is understood that the Scottish ban will,” like the ban in England and Wales, “follow a two-phase approach,” Allott continued.
“The first phase, which kicks in at an earlier date, will make it an offense to breed, buy, sell, abandon, give away, or otherwise rehome an XL Bully in Scotland. In England and Wales, XL Bullies also had to be muzzled and kept on a lead while in public from this same date.
“The second phase will require all owners wishing to keep their dogs to apply for an exemption for them,” requiring that each American Bully XL be sterilized, be insured for liability, be microchipped, and be restrained and muzzled when in public.
30,000 American Bully XLs exempted
More than 30,000 American Bully XL owners have reportedly obtained exemptions in England and Wales––which ensures that at least 30,000 supersized and nominally banned pit bulls will continue to have the opportunity to wreak havoc in their owners’ homes and/or after escaping from their homes.
This raises the question as to whether the impending national bans on breeding, selling, and rehoming the American Bully XL pit bull variant will actually accomplish anything to reduce pit bull attacks in England and Scotland.
Apart from the continued risk posed by every American Billy XL granted an exemption from the bans, there is the possibility that every American Bully XL in either nation might magically metamorphize into a “Staffordshire terrier.”
The “Staffordshire exemption” still exists
This is how pit bulls persisted in the United Kingdom after the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 banned the American Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasiliero, but exempted Staffordshire terriers, along with pit bulls under any other name.
The Staffordshire exemption, through which the so-called American Bully XL proliferated, may finally be closed by the broader definitions of banned dogs now added to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991––but only if those broader definitions are enforced to the letter.
Meanwhile, 70 pit bulls, going under various names, were among the 85 dogs known to have participated in killing a person despite the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Eleven of those killer pit bulls were said to have been the now technically prohibited American Bully XL pit bull variant, prompting the extension of Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 taking full effect on February 1, 2024.
Twenty, however, nearly twice as many, were called “Staffordshire terriers.”
Royal SPCA, Dogs Trust, & Scottish SPCA may continue rebranding pit bulls
Compounding the risk, the three largest dog rescue charities in the British Isles––the Royal SPCA of Britain, Dogs Trust, and the Scottish SPCA––appear likely to continue to promote the fiction that any pit bull coming their way is a “Staffordshire” and therefore not legally banned, no matter how closely the pit bull fits the specifications of either an American Pit Bull Terrier or an American Bully XL, as defined in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 enforcement regulations.
Appeals of American Bully XL ban continue
The Royal SPCA on January 6, 2024 announced, according to The Mirror, that “they won’t put down rescued XL Bully dogs in their care until judges rule on new restrictions on the breed,” in response to an appeal filed by a separate dog rescue organization, Carla Lane Animals in Need, of Liverpool.
The Royal SPCA was reportedly housing more than 240 American Bully XL pit bull variants at the time.
Carla Lane Animals in Need on December 29, 2023 won a High Court preliminary injunction ordering that “No XL bully dog may be seized from a rehoming organization and/or destroyed for want of, or ineligibility for, a certification of exemption, until further order of the court.”
Bad guys want bad dogs
Neil Shaw of Nottinghamshire Live meanwhile reported a surge in web searches for other dogs of dangerous reputation not covered by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, including 174,000 searches for Cane Corso, 84,000 for Rottweiler, 77,000 for German Shepherd, and 50,000 for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier pit bull variant.
“Staffordshires” have been exempted from United Kingdom attempts to ban pit bulls under the misconception that they are a traditional English breed.
While pit bulls and dogfighting have persisted in the United Kingdom at least since Elizabethan times, the “Staffordshire” breed name originated with American Pit Bull Terrier fighting dog breeder John P. Colby, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, who produced his first fighting dog litter in 1888 and almost immediately began selling some of his dogs to British dogfighters, who called themselves “fanciers.”
NewspaperArchive.com, including British media since 1607, shows no use of the term “Staffordshire” to describe a dog breed before Colby.
The out-of-control dog coalition
Despite that history, “fanciers” including the members of the Dog Control Coalition in 1991 persuaded Parliamentarians who did not do their research that “Staffordshires” are not pit bulls and were a traditional British breed.
The Dog Control Coalition includes the Royal SPCA, Dogs Trust, and the Kennel Club.
All three organizations have bitterly opposed XL Bully ban enforcement regulations promulgated by the U.K. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in a six-page document entitled Guidance: Applying the XL Bully breed type conformation standard.
Ban “strictly based on breed type”
Stipulates Guidance, “It is important to clarify that the assessment of whether an individual dog is prohibited is strictly based on ‘breed type,’ rather than breed or crossbreed. This means that whether your dog is a banned type depends on whether it meets the physical characteristics of a banned breed type, rather than its breed name or any DNA test results.
“A suspected XL Bully breed type does not need to fit the physical description perfectly. If it meets a substantial number of the characteristics set out in the conformation standard, it could be considered an XL Bully breed type, whether or not it was sold as an ‘XL Bully.’”
Data gathered by the victim advocacy organization Bully Watch shows an rise in alleged Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 offenses from 11,183 in 2019 to 15,350 in 2022, a 37% increase, while the total United Kingdom dog population rose by only 15%.
American XL Bullies, about 1% of the British dog population, were involved in 44% of reported attacks on people in 2023, Bully Watch told the BBC.