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13th Feb 2024

Veterinary Officer calls for Bully XL dogs to be banned in Ireland

Jody Coffey

Bully XL

“We should have a ban, the same as the UK”

Leitrim County Council’s Veterinary Officer, James Madden, has reiterated calls for Bully XL dogs to be banned in Ireland over fears they are ‘programmed to kill’.

The breed became restricted in November 2023 under the Control of Dogs Act, with a strict €300 fine if a dog was not being controlled.

The veterinary officer, while speaking on Today With Claire Byrne on Monday, called for an outright ban of Bully XL’s.

“We know numbers [of XL Bully dog attacks] are increasing but we don’t know how many dogs we have in total or what breeds they are. We could have more attacks here. There is no reason why we should introduce this breed to our society.

“We should have a ban, the same as the UK. These breeds are already here and many of them are in the hands of wrong owners. These dogs have the potential to inflict really serious injuries and fatal injuries, particularly older people and children.”

He adds that all restricted breeds have the potential to cause great harm due to their unpredictability and called for the implementation of a register for these breeds and their owners.

While consideration is being given by the CSO (Central Statistics Office) to include the number of pets per household in the next Census, James says ‘further restrictions’ are needed.

This comes following the attack on Wexford boy Alejandro Mizsan in September 2022, who was just nine years of age when he was attacked by a pitbull when playing near his home.

It is hoped additional measures will help prevent more attacks like this.

James also revealed that in the last number of years, several county councils have not issued any fines, despite an increase in dog attacks.

Gardaí have recorded 850 dog attacks in 2023, compared to 738 in 2022, an increase of 112.

James says Leitrim County Council has issued just two fines in recent months, adding that more personnel are needed to enforce fines and convictions.

“The number of fines and enforcement are really important. We have dog wardens so the fact is we do not have enough boots on the ground.

“We have at least 600,000 dogs in Ireland, so 60 full-time wardens is not enough personnel to police that. We had been promised 40 new wardens. So far it hasn’t materialised. It may do, these things take time,” he told Claire.

However, the veterinary officer acknowledged and welcomed the extra €2m awarded for dog warden departments to get new vans, which is equivalent to approximately €60,000 per local authority.

James adds that it takes ‘a lot’ for a person to be convicted of breaching the legislation, which can lead to it going unpunished.

For example, fines may only be issued if a restricted breed is unmuzzled or off the lead, a council dog warden witnesses an alleged offence, or if a first-hand statement is provided.

“You need hard evidence before you can issue a fine, like CCTV footage or a camera phone, or a member of the public willing to show up in court.

“It does take a lot to get someone convicted.”