Vets faced 'abuse and threats' from XL bully owners over ban

Vets faced "abuse and threats" from XL bully owners after the dog breed was banned, the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has said.

Anna Judson said the speed of the ban created a "very emotionally charged atmosphere" and "some really challenging situations".

She said the BVA was "very concerned" the ban was a "short-term fix to a much larger problem" and there was a risk of "transferring the problems to another breed in future".

The association was not consulted over the ban and "it came as quite a surprise," Ms Judson told Clare Balding on Channel 4's coverage of Crufts.

The BVA is calling for an overhaul of the dangerous dogs legislation with a "much stronger focus on responsible dog breeding and responsible dog ownership", Ms Judson added.

Ms Judson said: "One of our concerns at the British Veterinary Association is the speed at which the ban was introduced.

"It's created some really challenging situations, it's put the vets, the rescue charities and the XL bully owners into some very stressful situations.

"And with that came a very emotionally charged atmosphere and, unfortunately, that has spilt over to some abuse and threats of veterinary teams and vets.

"So, one of the things we would respectfully ask is that people are just mindful, even if they're feeling stressed, of how their actions and words come across.

"And to be kind and courteous to the vet teams, particularly as we come up to these neutering deadlines."

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What does the ban enforce?

From 1 February it became a criminal offence to own an XL bully in England and Wales without an exemption certificate - which owners can get after proving their XL bully has been neutered by 30 June.

Owners who do not have a certificate for their dogs can face fines, prosecution and even see their pet confiscated.

"We would really strongly urge that XL bully owners get in touch with their vets," Ms Judson said.

"And work with them in partnership to make sure that we can stagger the numbers going through the neutering process so we don't end up with a bottleneck and some capacity issues which will just heighten everybody's emotional state again."