XL bully owner ‘feels sick’ as plan to ban breed announced by Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak announced on Friday that the breed would be banned by Christmas, but it has not been met with open arms by everyone

Sophie Coulthard and her dog Billy
Sophie Coulthard and her dog Billy (Image: Sophie Coulthard/SWNS)

An XL bully owner has been left feeling “sick” after Rishi Sunak declared the controversial breed would be outlawed by the end of the year. Stunned Sophie Coulthard, 39, who has a one-year-old dog called Billy, branded the Government’s announcement a “populist decision to get votes”.

She suggested that dog maulings would continue even if the animals – which have been responsible for several high-profile attacks – were outlawed in Britain. On Friday Rishi Sunak called XL bullies a “danger to our communities” and said he’d shared the nation’s “horror” at videos showing them savaging innocent children.

He added that a rise in bite incidents concerning the breed wasn’t about a “handful of badly trained dogs” but a “pattern of behaviour” that “cannot go on”. But Sophie said his decision was a “knee-jerk” reaction and argued the Government should be seeking a “better solution” to stop the rise in dog bite tragedies.

She said on hearing the news: “That’s made me feel sick. If this government actually cared about animal welfare and public safety, they would be looking at a better solution for the future, rather than a knee-jerk reaction.

“I’ve had people message me on my social media saying that they’ve been scared for their dogs at the moment and spent the entire week crying over what the future of their family pet is. I always try to take a logical and commonsense approach to things, but I feel like our government hasn’t done that in this case. “I think it is a populist decision to get votes.”

She added: “There are so many people with dogs that do not understand the responsibility that comes with owning a dog of every breed. That is why dog attacks will continue even if they ban a breed.”

Rishi Sunak said he had tasked ministers to bring together experts that could first accurately “define the breed of dog” known as the XL bully in order to outlaw it. This is because the animals – which are a mix of the American pit bull terrier, American bulldog and English bulldog – are not currently identified in law, he said. But Sophie previously said she didn’t regard XL bullies as naturally violent, adding that her one-year-old pooch Billy was an ideal “family companion”.

Sophie Coulthard and her dog Billy
Sophie Coulthard and her dog Billy (Image: Sophie Coulthard/SWNS)

She said: “Billy is your classic couch potato. If I take him to the park he loves to run around, but he’s always on a lead. He loves to play. He’s like any kind of happy-go-lucky dog.

“He’s massively affectionate. He will literally lie on his back and demand that you stroke him all day, he’s really soft.

“He is exactly what we wanted, which is a family companion dog. He has never growled or ever shown even a hint of aggression. But I’ve always been conscious of teaching him ‘impulse control’ and putting things in place to make sure he has a happy life, but with boundaries.”

James McNally, known as Britain’s leading dog bite solicitor, earlier backed up Sophie’s suggestion, saying a ban on XL bully dogs wouldn’t stop attacks from taking place. Instead, he said the widespread problems with dangerous dogs in Britain went “much deeper” than a single breed.

He said: “For the last 30 years lawmakers have been struggling to enforce poorly thought-through legislation. The last thing we need is more of the same.

“Banning XL bullys isn’t going to stop dog attacks. It will get the headlines, but it won’t stop the problems as they go much deeper than just one particular type of dog. If they are banned, they aren’t just going to disappear overnight, and I suspect all that will happen is a new type of dog will be bred which gets round the ban.”