Owners of XL bully dogs in Scotland will be subject to new safeguards as the Government replicates UK legislation.

Scottish community safety minister Siobhian Brown said the move is “right and proper” amid concern over an influx of dogs being abandoned in Scotland.

The first phase of the regulations will make it an offence to sell, abandon, give away, or breed an XL bully in Scotland.

A date for when the rules will officially be imposed has yet to be confirmed, however owners wishing to keep their dogs will also need to keep the XL bully on a lead and muzzled in public.

The second phase will see owners able to apply for their dogs to be added to an exemption index to keep them.

Owners wishing to keep their XL bully will have to pay an unconfirmed fee – £92.40 in England and Wales – to register the pet.

But compensation will be payable to owners who no longer wish to keep their pet, including reimbursement for euthanasia.

Announcing the safeguards in a ministerial statement in Holyrood, Ms Brown blamed the UK Government for failing to consider the “knock-on impacts” of controls being implemented south of the border.

She said: “As the First Minister set out last week, the UK Government failed to act to stop dog owners in England and Wales evade the new controls by bringing their dogs to Scotland.

Siobhian Brown
Siobhian Brown, centre, said the UK Government had failed to consider the impact of its legislation (PA)

“That changed the balance of whether we needed to act here in Scotland.

“These are exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves. It means that it is now right and proper that we replicate the controls being implemented south of the border.”

The Scottish Government will also look to make potential improvements to the 2010 Control of Dogs Act to enhance the preventative dog control notice scheme.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the measures on dangerous dogs are being introduced five years too late, after the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee said the Act was “not fit for purpose”.

But Ms Brown also said: “We recognise the vast majority of dog owners are responsible animal lovers and will want to keep their XL bully dogs and comply with these safeguards when they are introduced.”

Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay hit out at the Scottish Government for having “dithered” over whether to follow the UK Government by acting.

Mr Findlay said Tories had warned “that the SNP’s stupidity would result in an influx of XL bullies into Scotland and that is exactly what is happening”.

The Conservative said: “Adults and children across the UK have been maimed and killed by XL bullies.

“In response, and rightly, UK ministers moved quickly to protect the public. They banned the breeding, sale, exchange and gifting of these dangerous and powerful animals.”

Meanwhile Labour’s Colin Smyth said the announcement was “another example of the inability of our two governments to work together”.

But stressing “appalling dog attacks” could occur when “irresponsible owners” of other breeds fail to keep their animals under control, he called for action to introduce stronger powers for councils, the police and courts “that make clear responsibility ultimately lies with irresponsible owners and irresponsible breeders”.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame also spoke out, saying the changes from the Scottish Government were “ill considered and unjust to decent owners”.

The backbencher insisted that “demonising a breed is not an answer”, pointing out to MSPs that only 2% of dog control notices that have been issued in Scotland applied to “XL bully type breeds”.