Hundreds of XL Bully owners have protested Rishi Sunak’s ban by joining a march in central London – but left their dogs at home.
Crowds amassed in the capital on Saturday to protest the move, insisting their dogs are completely safe and that only a minority are dangerous.
Before the event, organisers sent a message to attendees asking them not to bring their pets to the protest, claiming the police would “antagonise and seize your dog.”
Many protestors carried placards or wore t-shirts opposing the ban, including one that read: “Muzzle Rishi. Don’t bully our breed”.
“People need to take responsibility for their dog”, XL Bully owner Michelle West told Kent Online. “They are blaming the wrong end of the lead. I’ve never known a dog so affectionate and soppy.”
Mr Sunak made the pledge to ban the breed after a man died following attack by two dogs – suspected to be XL Bullys – in Staffordshire, and a video of another incident that went viral as an 11-year-old girl suffered serious injuries from the same breed in Birmingham.
“I share the nation’s horror at the recent videos we’ve all seen,” Mr Sunak said. “It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.”
The American XL Bully is close to the Pitbull terrier, crossbred with other breeds including English bulldogs, the Olde English Bulldogge and American bulldogs.
They were recognised as a breed by the US United Kennel Club in 2013, but not by the UK’s main dog associations.
The XL in their name refers to their size, with four categories including pocket, standard, classic and XL.
The latter tend to grow to around 33 to 50cm in height, weighing in at between 20 and 60kg.