SNP ministers have been accused of “extraordinary complacency” after saying they were taking their time to decide whether to ban XL Bully dogs amid an influx from south of the border.

SNP Community Safety Minister Siobhan Brown said she was still compiling and studying evidence despite the work starting in September and had no timescale for a decision. 

“We are taking our time just to gather evidence before we make a decision,” she said.

Pushed for a timeframe, Ms Brown replied: “I think we’ll just have to wait and see.” 

The minister blamed the UK Government for giving Holyrood short notice of its decision to ban the dogs, which have killed children and adults, last year.

Speaking to Bauer Media today, First Minister Humza Yousaf appeared to sow confusion on the issue by saying the government did not think a ban was needed north of the border 

He said: “We’re still keeping a potential ban under review.

"We don’t think it is required or needed given the strict regime that we have in place in Scotland at the moment. But as I say it is absolutely something we keep under continual review.”

In recent days there have been reports of an “alarming” number of the animals, which can weigh up to nine stone, being transported into Scotland for rehousing.

READ MORE: XL bully dog curbs come into force in England and Wales

UK government legislation made it illegal to breed, sell, or walk the animals in public without a lead and muzzle from 31 December in England and Wales.

However there are no such restrictions in Scotland and the Scottish Government has said it will “give full consideration” to a possible ban in order to “arrive at the correct decision”.

Humza Yousaf has said there may not be any kind of ban at all.

The Scottish Tories have accused the SNP of political posturing and endangering the public.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme on Thursday, Ms Brown said she wrote to the UK Government late last year to say Scotland would not follow the same timescale as England and Wales.

She said: “We do in Scotland have a unique system where we have dog control notices through our local authorities. This has been in place since 2022. 

“We've got over 1000 Dogs throughout Scotland that are on this database.

“If there is a dangerous dog, local authorities have the authority and the power to go in and say that these dogs are muzzled or on a lead. That is not in England, Wales.

“So we will not be following the [UK] timescale. It has not been ruled out elsewhere.

“But we are taking our time just to gather evidence before we make a decision.”

Asked if she was worried that Scotland was becoming a “dumping ground” for XL Bullies, Ms Brown blamed Westminster for the situation and for creating “loopholes”.

READ MORE: XL Bullies Scotland - Dogs Trust pauses breed rescues

She said: “I am concerned. I think we need to be very clear here that the UK Government has made it illegal for owners in England and Wales to rehome or to rehouse any XL Bully type dog as of the 31st of December 2023. 

“So it is concerning to hear that there are reports of the XL Bully dogs being moved to Scotland for rehoming. 

“We've made it clear to the UK Government that there should be no impact on Scotland and that people in England and Wales do not use any loopholes that can be created by the UK Government in getting rid of their dogs north of the border or anywhere else in the UK. 

“This legislation has been very rushed through, but it's important that the legal framework governing the ban in England and Wales is comprehensive to ensure that relevant owners in England and Wales can be held to account for their actions and so react to the ban being introduced to England and Wales.”

Asked when she expected to make a decision on a ban in Scotland, the minister said she was still meeting with various stakeholders and refused to give a date.

She said: “What I've been doing is I've been meaning the Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, Scottish SPC. I've met with victims of dog attacks, dog clinical behaviourists, national dog wardens, veterinary representatives.

“We're back at Parliament next week. I'm meeting with Police Scotland and I'm also meeting with the Communication Workers Union who represent postal postal workers across Scotland. So I am engaging, I am listening, I have been doing so since this announcement came in October [The UK Government announced its plans on September 15, 2023]. 

“I can't tell you at this present time exactly when we will be making an announcement. 

“But any announcement that we will be making, or a decision that we will be making, it will be based on evidence.”

READ MORE: XL Bullies Scotland - Are XL bullies banned in Scotland?

Pressed on a timescale, Ms Brown said: “I think we’ll just have to wait and see. I wouldn't say months but… I’m still speaking to people and then I will be making a decision and then I will make it public.”

She denied the Scottish Government was “asleep at the wheel” and said she understood  “the fear out there”, but said many XL Bullies wouldn’t be covered by the UK-wide legislation, which was based on the animals’ height at the shoulder.

She added: “I've also had a lot of people get in touch thinking this is really unfair legislation. 

“So it's getting the balance right. We want the communities to be safe. Any dog attack is atrocious and we do not want that to happen. 

“But we need to have a balanced view before we make our decisions and make it all on evidence, and that's what the Scottish Government will be doing.”

Tory MSP Russell Findlay said: “The SNP community safety minister’s extraordinary complacency is putting the safety of the Scottish public at increased risk. 

“The sole motivation for this appears to be divergence from the rest of the UK which is inexcusable.

“The SNP government was warned weeks if not months ago that the refusal to back a UK-wide ban, a sensible UK-wide ban, would result in exactly what we're seeing now, which is an influx of these dogs into Scotland.

“These dogs have already killed people in Scotland, as they have across the UK. 

“They've maimed people and that will continue to happen.

“And Scots, uniquely now, are at greater risk because of the SNP’s boneheaded refusal to emulate this UK-wide law. They could act now, but they're choosing not to.”