Dr Neil Hudson MP - the only vet elected to the House of Commons since 1884 - has reaffirmed his support for emergency dangerous dogs legislation while now working on a longer body of work to reform dog ownership.
From today, it is now illegal to own an XL Bully dog unless it is registered and complies with strict rules including being neutered, and being muzzled and on a leash in public. This delivers on the Government’s pledge to take quick and decisive action to protect the public from devastating dog attacks by adding the breed type to the existing list of dangerous dogs.
Dr Hudson triggered and chaired an emergency Select Committee meeting to look at the nuances of the ban, and this week the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee wrote to Lord Douglas-Miller, the Minister for Biosecurity, Animal Health and Welfare, regarding a key element of the new regulations. Dr Hudson raised this neutering point with DEFRA Secretary Steve Barclay in the Commons today. This specifically follows up on the issue of neutering dogs aged less than one year old on 31 January 2024, and calls for an extension, from December 2024 to June 2025, of the deadline for neutering these dogs, to take account of veterinary concerns raised by the British Veterinary Association that neutering a dog under the age of 18 months may increase their risk of developmental orthopaedic problems, alongside other medical conditions.
The letter also asks what steps the Government is taking to put in place a process for owners to deregister dogs which have been inadvertently registered as XL bullies.
- The EFRA letter to the Minister for Biosecurity, Animal Health and Welfare can be found here.
Dr Neil Hudson MP said:
"I've always maintained that sadly this emergency legislation was necessary to protect public safety and the safety of other animals.
"Now continues a much longer piece of work on responsible dog ownership - looking at owners and breeder, and harvesting more reliable dog attack data.
"I have joined the public in their desire to see holistic changes to tackle illicit breeders, provide better training for dogs and make sure support is in place for rehoming charities. This new legislation has acted as a catalyst for this work and I support our Government as it implements its responsible ownership taskforce, aids police and councils in tackling the issue and cracks down on associated issues of ear cropping, unregulated canine fertility clinics and puppy smuggling."
Dr Hudson has shared the nuances of the ban with national media outlets, featuring on the likes of ITV News, BBC 5 Live Radio and the Express.
You can read today’s exchange in Parliament between Dr Hudson and DEFRA Secretary Steve Barclay here:
Dr Neil Hudson MP asked:
"With the ban on XL bully dogs, owners will now have applied to keep their dogs with a certificate of exemption, and part of that means the dog has to be neutered. The British Veterinary Association has put forward a prudent neutering suggestion, given the evidence that neutering large breed dogs before the age of 18 months can increase the risk of developmental orthopaedic disorders and other medical conditions. Can the Government therefore take the reasonable and small step of extending the neutering deadline to the end of June 2025 for those dogs that are under seven months of age at 31 January 2024?"
The Environment Secretary Steve Barclay replied:
"Well, given my Honourable Friend's expertise in this issue, as Parliament's only vet, I listen very closely to what he proposes. Of course, as he knows, neutering is a necessary population control and we have already taken action responding to the greater risks of dogs at a young age by extending the deadline. But I'm very happy to take away the proposal that he raises, and look at that again."