They said it would happen like this. XL Bullies will be taken to Scotland to avoid the ban in England, they said. Policy is being made on the hoof. We need an entirely different approach to the issue of potentially dangerous dogs. But government fingers were placed in government ears, and government lips placed to government loudhailers, and so here we are: crisis not avoided.

The precise nature of the problem is clear. From this month, it’s illegal in England and Wales to breed and sell XL Bullies or walk them without a muzzle or lead. But the law doesn’t apply in Scotland so it you live up here, you can breed and sell XL Bullies all you like and walk them any way you want. Unsurprisingly, XL Bully owners down south have spotted this and some say: “right, pack yer bags, we’re off to Scotland.” The result: a rise in the number of dogs being taken north.

Obviously, this is hopelessly inconsistent, but the really sad thing is we should have seen it coming in the way the Scottish and UK governments have been behaving. I’ve spoken to campaigners on the subject, and people who own XL Bullies, and it’s far from clear what the solution is: ban, Scottish status quo, or something else. But in finding a way forward it might be useful to explore how our governments got us here. I’m sure you’ll find it frustratingly familiar.

The person in charge at the Scottish end of things, minister for community safety Siobhian Brown, is a good place to start because a letter she wrote in response to Michael Gove last year outlining the Scottish position really started the alarm bells clanging. I’ve read the letter and it’s the most bewildering combination of bonkers and common sense.

The common sense bit relates to her criticism of the UK Government. Ms Brown points out the PM announced the XL Bully ban without public consultation or prior notice. This is true and a reflection of where the Tories are right now: there’s an election coming so they’re running around not-panicking Corporal Jones-style and announcing instant policies. Bad dogs! Ban them! Vote Tory!

The fact the UK Government behaved in this way was the start of the problem but the Scottish Government’s response made things worse. In her letter, Ms Brown laid out the Scottish approach which focuses on imposing control notices on owners who have allowed their dogs to get out of control (“deed not breed”) and she said it was working fine and there was no need for a ban in Scotland.

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But the UK Government’s arrogance in introducing a ban without consultation or notice is matched, I’m afraid, by the complacency of the Scottish Government in concluding that the system they’re using is OK. For a start, if Ms Brown does believe in deed not breed, why does she express concern in her letter about an influx of XL Bullies into Scotland after the English ban? Shouldn’t she be welcoming the XL Bullies with open arms and a squeaky dog toy?

There’s also concern about whether deed-not-breed control notices are effective. As Doug Smith, a campaigner on XL Bullies, pointed out to me, the problem with deed not breed is that by the time the deed happens, it can be too late. And the policy seems to be failing to stop XL Bully attacks in Scotland, one of which was fatal. Ms Brown didn’t address any of this in her letter.

Perhaps we could have continued with deed-not-breed had the UK Government not introduced its ban, and perhaps we could have accepted that some attacks will happen. But what Ms Brown should have done is acknowledge the circumstances had changed. England has introduced its ban and Ms Brown’s responsibility was to respond to the circumstances as they are, not as she wished them to be.

To be fair, the two governments are as bad as each other. The UK should have consulted on the ban and it should have asked the Scottish Government for its views. But equally, the SN P should have listened to the warnings about an influx from England and accepted that a ban in England and a non-ban in Scotland was likely to change how owners behave. Ms Brown asked in her letter what the UK Government was going to do about the problem without acknowledging any responsibility to do something herself.

I guess it’s not too late even now, if the Scottish Government can overcome its notorious tendency to thrawnness. The ban down south has been introduced so that’s that, and from February it will be also be an offence in England and Wales to own an XL Bully without an exemption, which is likely to accelerate the influx into Scotland even further. Mr Smith says the number of dogs being moved north is already unprecedented; the Dogs Trust has also suspended the intake of XL Bullies while it awaits an update from the Scottish Government. So no doubt: this is a crisis.

What should the Scottish Government do then? It could announce straight away that it accepts the circumstances in the UK have changed and that a review of the Scottish law is needed. This would require a considerable degree of political maturity – certainly more than the UK Government has shown – but I would hope the SNP is capable of it. It would also be better than the alternative they may be considering of waiting for the next attack by an XL Bully in Scotland and blaming it on “English dogs”. Sadly, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility.

A more mature approach to the whole issue would also be good for the owners. One of them I spoke to, Sophie Coulthard of the campaign group Don’t Ban Me, Licence Me, clearly loves her XL Bullies and is very responsible. But we know – and it’s remarkable how little this is talked about – that there’s a class element to the subject and that it’s often people living near less responsible owners on housing estates, say, who are on the frontline. So when we’re legislating, think of them.

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The bottom line too is that, although there are great owners and no doubt lovely dogs, animals that are capable of inflicting very serious damage must be subject to very serious laws. Would it be a ban? Not sure: the ban on pit-bulls did naff all. Would it be the continued use of deed-not-breed? Also not sure: that sound you hear is kennel doors being bolted after the dogs have bitten. The point surely is that if we want a serious law, we need serious governments to work together to find out what it should be. So do it please.