The Dangerous Dogs Act marks 32 years on the statute book.

A coalition of animal welfare and veterinary organisations believes moves to stop serious dog bite incidents are being hijacked by calls to ban one breed of dog – and public safety will pay the price.

In recent months, there have been growing calls to add the XL Bully to the list of dogs it is illegal to own in the UK – joining the pit bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero.

However, such a move has been labelled “flawed” and “knee-jerk”- with the coalition saying this will not make the public safer and risks masking a bigger problem.

The Dog Control Coalition – made up of the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, the British Veterinary Association, Hope Rescue, the Kennel Club and the Scottish SPCA – have joined forces to urge decision-makers to overhaul the UK’s dangerous dog legislation. They want to end the ‘discriminatory’ focus on certain types of dogs, instead supporting solutions dealing with the root causes of the tragic cases of dog aggression incidents that continue to hit the headlines.

The call comes as the controversial Dangerous Dogs Act marks 32 years on the statute book today.

Despite breed specific legislation having been in force for more than three decades, the number of dog bite incidents is sadly going up – suggesting a focus on breed, rather than individual acts of aggression and irresponsible dog ownership, is already failing.

In 2022/23, NHS data suggests there were a provisional 9,366 dog bites recorded – an increase on the 8,819 recorded the previous year.

The Coalition has warned adding more breeds of dog to the ‘banned list’ will see even more dogs destroyed just because of the way they look, while failing to deal with the root causes of aggressive and dangerous dogs.

They believe the debate has for too long focussed on how dogs look, rather than how they behave, and, with a UK General Election looming, they instead want decision-makers to focus on evidence-based solutions which prevent bite incidents from any dogs.