HOME Secretary Suella Braverman is considering banning XL Bully dogs after the latest attack over the weekend in which three people were injured. This probably makes sense. If only she could ban the idiotic, irresponsible and self-obsessed owners of these dogs. Sadly, it seems we are stuck with them.
The video of the ‘XL Bully dog’ attacking a little girl before going for two men trying to save her is truly appalling and I will not link to it. No doubt there will be all sorts of debates as to just how easy it will be to define an XL Bully for the purposes of legislation, and whether it is the owner or the dog that is the problem.
But the critical question is just why do people feel the need to own dogs that pose a risk to others? My guess is that the threat, the risk, is the point. This unspoken yet obvious threat is exactly the reason many people choose to own these and other menacing-looking dogs.
These owners are always the ones to tell you that their dogs are lovable furry creatures who ‘are always around their own children’ (poor kids). But we all know why you own them: it’s the implicit threat that gives you the thrill. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these people walk amongst us. And their dogs are walking or running right beside them, often not even on leads.
We have to share our streets with these people and their menacing dogs, although it is often children in more deprived areas who have to share space with these selfish owners. Don’t these children and other responsible residents who are going about their lawful business have enough to deal with, without being savaged by some out-of-control XL Bully dog? Even the name annoys me.
Take Daren in this piece in the Guardian. First, Daren has lots of tattoos, of course he does. ‘Daren bought his two American Bully XL dogs, siblings Elvis and Priscilla, when they were eight weeks old, after studying the breed for two years. Now two and half years old, they weigh about 68kg each, or roughly twice as much as a labrador.’ Spiffing.
The article goes on: ‘“They’re just beautiful dogs,” Daren says. “They are a big, strong, muscular dog . . . so powerful. It has got to the point now where they’re trying to ban the breed and everyone’s thinking: ‘Oh no, you’ve got an XL Bully – that dog is an absolute lunatic.’ But I would be more frightened of my dogs licking you to death”.’ No one has ever actually been killed by being licked, though, have they, Daren?
He does admit that the strength and size of the Bully XL means that owners have to be particularly good at training them. ‘You get snappy Jack Russells or you get snappy chihuahuas, but if one of them bites or nips you, you are not actually going to be in trouble. If one of these gets hold of you, you’re going to be in trouble.’ You don’t say, Daren, you don’t say.
The piece continues, ‘Daren, who runs his own scaffolding business in Surrey, gets a family friend to look in on his dogs while he is at work, but won’t let them take both dogs out at the same time. “I’m the only person who can walk both dogs together because of their power. They’re 68 kilos of solid muscle and if they suddenly wanted to take off, no man on this earth could hold them,” he says. “That’s why training and voice command is so important”.’ Gosh, that is reassuring.
In fairness, we are told: ‘Daren and others believe some owners are training their dogs to be more aggressive to use them as status symbols or guard dogs.’ So it may well be that Daren is a responsible dog owner, but even he admits that there are plenty out there who are not. And as we live in communities and not desert islands sometimes sacrifices have to be made, which means not owning dogs that can kill in very quick time.
The other question is, is this phenomenon of owning dangerously aggressive dogs only a British fashion? If you go to France, for instance, are you likely to see someone strolling along sporting two massive XL Bullies? I doubt if you do.
So Suella Braverman has my support in banning these dogs. If only she could do the same with the owners.