Wednesday 12 June 2024

Scotland - Government XL Bully Reminder

 Deadline approaches for applications.


XL Bully dog owners are being reminded to apply for an exemption certificate before the deadline on 31 July 2024 so they can continue to legally own their dogs.

From 1 August 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate or not to have applied for one by that date.

What you need to apply for an exemption - XL Bully dogs in Scotland - (

To get an exemption certificate, owners can apply online or by post for a £92.40 fee, while they must also obtain third party insurance and neuter and microchip their dogs. The deadline for online applications is midnight 31 July. Postal applications must be received by 15 July.

Since 1 April, when the exemption application process to own an XL Bully dog opened, 761 dogs have been registered online with 7 postal applications also received.

In line with the initial safeguards introduced on 23 February, XL Bully dogs must continue to be muzzled and kept on a lead in public.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Pet Abduction Bill becomes law

As a General Election was recently announced, many Bills currently in progress did not manage to proceed any further as Parliament dissolved.
But good news for the Pet Abduction Bill - it managed to pass the final hurdles and became law just in time, with parliament now dissolved for the forthcoming Election.
The new legislation creates specific offences for dog and cat abduction in England and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of five years, a fine, or both. There are also powers to extend the legislation to cover other pets if necessary.
The legislation to make pet abduction a criminal offence received Royal Assent on 24th May.
Under the Pet Abduction Act 2024 – which was a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by Anna Firth MP and Lord Black of Brentwood and supported by the Government – anyone found guilty of stealing a pet in England or Northern Ireland will face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.
The new law recognises that cats and dogs are not inanimate objects but sentient beings capable of experiencing distress and other emotional trauma when they are stolen from their owners or keepers. 
Evidence from the Pet Theft Taskforce suggests around 2,000 dog and over 400 cat theft crimes were reported to police in 2020, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. With an estimated 28% of UK adults owning a dog and 24% owning a cat, pet theft is a major concern to the public.
Support for the Act builds upon wider action to protect pets from theft, including making the microchipping of cats compulsory from 10 June 2024. This makes it easier for lost, stray or stolen pets to be reunited with their owners and returned home safely.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

EFRA Committee Report - Pet Welfare & Abuse

Pet welfare and abuse – Inquiry:

This inquiry is considering the post-pandemic health and welfare concerns of companion animals, including abuse and mutilation.

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Report Summary April 2024:

Over half of UK adults own a pet, and the country is often described as a nation of animal lovers. During our inquiry, however, we heard serious concerns about the risks posed to pet welfare by practices including unscrupulous breeding, the proliferation of Canine Fertility Clinics, the breeding of so-called ‘designer’ dogs, and abhorrent acts of abuse and mutilation. We considered the risks associated with pet importation, including puppy smuggling, the import of heavily pregnant and very young pets, the import of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails, and declawed cats, and the management of biosecurity. We took evidence from a wide range of sector experts on how existing legislation should be improved in order to provide stronger animal welfare safeguards, and robustly penalise those who seek to circumvent the law.

Throughout our inquiry we heard strong sector support for bringing forward all of the measures proposed under the withdrawn Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill 2021–22 as a matter of urgency. While the Licensing of Activities Involving Animals (2018) Regulations have helped establish a framework for higher welfare standards, these should be made more robust in order to clamp down on breeders who undercut standards to maximise profit. The Government should introduce a new Veterinary Surgeons Act to ensure that it is fit to tackle 21st century challenges. In particular, it must provide appropriate regulation for Canine Fertility Clinics, and introduce stringent and proportionate penalties for individuals who illegally perform acts of veterinary surgery. While the Animal Welfare Act 2006 prohibits the carrying out of mutilations such as ear cropping, tail docking, and declawing of cats, the import of animals with these mutilations is not currently prohibited, and this loophole should be closed as a matter of priority.

Our inquiry’s key findings and recommendations are:

The Government’s withdrawal of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill stalled progress on key animal welfare issues. These delays have allowed the continuation of poor animal welfare practices. The Department must ensure that every provision from the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill is brought into force during the current Parliament. We welcome the introduction of Private Members’ bills that will take forward vital animal welfare measures, but note that the Government was relying heavily on Members who were successful in the Private Members’ bill ballot being willing to take on its handout bills to deliver its manifesto promises, rather than committing to bringing forward the legislation itself. While on this occasion it may prove successful, it was nonetheless a risky strategy.

It is estimated that less than half of puppies entering the market are from licensed breeders. The lack of traceability enables unscrupulous, low welfare breeding practices to flourish under the radar. More stringent safeguards are needed to ensure robust protections for the welfare of dogs and their puppies. The Department should improve traceability of dog breeding by introducing legislation to reduce the litter licensing threshold from three to two per 12-month period.

Cat breeding is becoming an increasingly accessible and lucrative business, but there are few legal safeguards to protect cats and their kittens. Cat breeding should be awarded the same legislative safeguards as awarded to dogs under Licensing of Activities Involving Animals Regulations.

The sharp rise in Canine Fertility Clinics from 37 in 2020, to over 400 currently, is of significant concern, particularly given their association with the breeding of so-called ‘designer’ dogs, such as brachycephalic breeds, and other breeds whose extreme characteristics have the potential to compromise health and welfare. The Government should make it a priority to introduce legislation to reform the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) to include Canine Fertility Clinics. The current £100 fine for performing acts of veterinary surgery illegally is a derisory deterrent. The Government should bring this fine in line with the penalties under The Animals (Penalty Notices) Act 2022.

Local authority animal welfare officers play a vital role in the licensing and enforcement activities that help protect animals. However, the ability of local authorities to perform regulatory activities is constrained by a lack of specialist knowledge and training, and inadequate funding and resources. This results in an inconsistent approach nationally. A central unit of suitably trained inspectors should be established which can be utilised by local authorities to improve collaboration and disseminate best practice.

Mutilations such as ear cropping, cosmetic tail docking and declawing are ethically abhorrent procedures with lasting welfare implications. The Government should close the loophole that allows the importation of mutilated animals as a matter of urgency, and certainly before the end of the current Parliament. Alongside this, the Government should legislate to restrict the possession, hosting, sale and supply of DIY ear cropping kits, which are all too easy to purchase online.

Carriers, meaning ferry companies or the Eurotunnel, play a key role in the pet importation and checking process, but it is not evident that carriers are striking the right balance between speed, checks, profit and identifying non-compliance. We have strong concerns about the robustness of a pet importation system that is based on 100% documentary checks at ports. This has implications for both biosecurity and smuggling. Puppy smuggling is perceived as a low risk, high reward crime, with the potential for sizeable profitmaking. To clamp down on smuggling, and prevent the import of very young puppies and heavily pregnant dogs, the Government should implement:

A reduction on the number of dogs and cats that can be imported by an individual into the UK from five per person to five per vehicle, and three per foot or air passenger.

A ban on the importation of puppies and kittens under six months.

A ban on the importation of pregnant dogs and cats in the last 30% of gestation.

Monday 29 April 2024

Pet Abduction Bill moves on

The Pet Abduction Bill has now passed several stages in the House of Commons and moved onto the House of Lords - the 2nd Reading is due in the Lords on the 10th May.

The private members Bill was introduced by Anna Firth MP and will create specific offences of dog abduction and cat abduction and plans to confer a power to make corresponding provision relating to the abduction of other animals commonly kept as pets.

There is currently no legislation aimed at addressing pet theft specifically. Animals fall under the definition of property in legislation, and as such pet theft is dealt with under the Theft Act 1968.  Campaigners have called for stronger legislation that reflects the emotional value of pets to their owners and the distress associated with their theft.

Tuesday 23 April 2024

XL Bully Neutering Forms Update

Updated information for owners of exempted XL Bully dogs in England and Wales:
If you own an XL Bully dog, you must provide Defra with evidence that your dog has been neutered for your Certificate of Exemption to remain valid. 
If you do not provide evidence that your dog has been neutered by the relevant deadline, your dog will no longer be exempt. 
Your XL Bully dog must be permanently neutered. Male dogs must be neutered through castration, and female dogs must be spayed.  
An RCVS-registered veterinary surgeon must perform the neutering procedure.
You must provide Defra with evidence that your XL Bully dog has been neutered on or before the relevant deadline. 
The deadline depends on the dog’s age on 31 January 2024.

If already neutered - A vet must confirm that your XL Bully is already neutered and fill in the VCN01 form with the owner.  

The owner must return the form to Defra on or before the relevant deadline. 

The owner must email a scanned copy or photo of the completed VCN01 form to, or post it to:

Dogs Index (neutering forms)
PO Box 68250

If you send the form by email, include the dog’s Certificate of Exemption number in the subject line. Include all scans or photos of the form in a single email.

If sending by post, we recommend you use a signed-for or special delivery service.

Guidance and Information - Confirm an XL Bully dog has been neutered - GOV.UK (

Monday 25 March 2024

Animal Welfare (Responsibility for Dog Attacks) Bill


A Private Members' Bill sponsored by Anna Firth MP

A Bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to require a person in charge of a dog to take all reasonable steps to ensure that that dog does not fatally injure another dog; and for connected purposes.

This Bill started in the House of Commons and has it’s Second reading scheduled for 17th May 2024.

There is no publication of the Bill yet.

Thursday 21 March 2024

Bill's Second Reading - DDA Amendment

 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (Amendment) Bill:

Sponsored by Sir Christopher Chope MP

A Bill to provide that, before making any order to designate a type of dog for the purposes of section 1 or 2 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the Secretary of State must carry out a public consultation and publish a comparative review of data showing the incidences of fatalities resulting from bites of dogs of that type in the last three years.

The next stage for this Bill, Second reading, is scheduled to take place on Friday 22 March 2024.

This is a Private Members' Bill and was presented to Parliament on Monday 11 December 2023.