The SNP community safety minister has denied delaying curbs on XL Bully Dogs north of the border in order to score political points.

Siobhian Brown today set out plans for Scotland to mirror restrictions on the animals which have been in place in England and Wales since December 31, but failed to give a timescale.

She blamed the UK Government for an influx of the dogs to Scotland after the changes were announced south of the border rather than a lack of planning by her own administration.

UK Ministers announced new curbs in October after a spate of XL Bully attacks on children and adults, several of which resulted in people being killed.

Ms Brown was warned repeatedly that owners would try to rehome dogs in Scotland, but insisted the Scottish regime of dog control notices was sufficient.

However, after reports of a sharp rise in the nine-stone dogs coming to Scotland in the New Year Humza Yousaf announced a U-turn last week.

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Conforming the change in a statement to parliament, Ms Brown said XL Bullies would be subject to tight restrictions, but they would not be banned outright.

The community safety minister said that in Scotland, subject to approval by Holyrood, there would be a two-stage safeguarding regime.

In the first, it would become an offence to sell, abandon, let stray, give away, or breed from an XL Bully dog or have one in public without a lead or muzzle.

In the second stage, it would be an offence to own an XL Bully dog unless it was registered on an “exemption index”, which would require it to be microchipped and neutered.

Ms Brown told MSPs: “This two-stage approach will give a limited amount of time for XL Bully owners to make an informed decision about what they want to do with their dogs.

“Once the new regime is in place an owner will need to decide either to keep their dogs, and if so, adhere to the new safeguards, or to no longer keep their dog.”

She said owners would have to pay a fee to register their dog and compensation if they chose to have it destroyed. 

She said the sums had yet to be decided, but in England and Wales registration cost £92.40, while compensation for a dog subject to euthanasia was up to £200.

Admitting there was no set timetable, she said: “The specific dates for these stages will be set in the legislation to be laid and agreed in Parliament, but we are working at pace to develop necessary regulations. 

“Dog owners in Scotland should therefore start to consider what they may wish to do with their XL Bully dogs.

“I would suggest it would be sensible for any prospective owners of XL Bully dogs to seriously bear in mind the need to adhere to the new safeguards, if they are minded to acquire an XL Bully dog where they currently do not own one.”

She said the Scottish Government still believed it was individual dogs and owners to blame for out-of-control behaviour, or “deed not breed”.

However “exceptional circumstances” had obliged it to mirror of the UK Government’s curbs on all XL Bullies.

She concluded: “We must recognise the consequences of the UK Government’s policy on XL Bully dogs. Effectively it would see owners in England and Wales able to get rid of their XL Bully dogs here in Scotland.

“We therefore have to act and enhance safeguards that will help keep the public safe.

“It is therefore now right to replicate the regime in England and Wales so that we remove the ability of English and Welsh dog owners to use Scotland to get rid of their dogs.” 

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Tory MSP Russell Findlay accused the SNP-Green Government of deliberately dragging its feet in order to show it was taking a different path to Westminster.  

He said: “After adults and children across the UK were maimed and killed by XL Bullies, UK ministers rightly moved quickly to protect the public. But the SNP decided to reject the same measures.

“We know that seeking divergence from the UK is what gets the SNP out of bed in the morning.  But putting petty nationalist point-scoring above public safety surely marks a new low.

“We warned that their stupidity would result in an influx of XL Bullies into Scotland and that’s exactly what is happening.

“Siobhian Brown should explain how many XL Bullies have been brought into Scotland while she and Humza Yousaf dithered, take responsibility for her inaction and apologise to anyone who suffers harm as a result.”

Ms Brown said the Scottish Government had been “left with little choice” because of  the UK Government’s restrictions in England and Wales.

Ms Brown also said the Government was looking to toughen up the 2010 Control of Dogs Act which created the dog control notice system in Scotland. 

SNP MSP Christine Grahame, who authored the Member’s Bill behind the Act, said the proposed regulations were “ill-considered and unjust to decent owners”, adding: “Demonising a breed is not the answer”.

The backbencher pointed out only 2% of dog control notices that have been issued in Scotland applied to “XL bully type breeds”.

She said she hoped the Act could be improved “urgently” and called a national dog microchip database instead of the current piecemeal system.