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Why dangerous dogs are 'destroyed' and not 'put to sleep' or 'euthanised'

Britt Jones

| Last updated 

Why dangerous dogs are 'destroyed' and not 'put to sleep' or 'euthanised'

In light of the news that American XL bully dogs are set to be banned in the UK, many people are wondering what it means for a 'dangerous' dog to be 'destroyed' as opposed to 'put to sleep'.

American XL bully dogs - which are a larger version of the pitbull terrier, weighing between 20-60kg - have been deemed a public safety hazard and danger after a steady rise in attacks which left an 11-year-old girl needing stitches and a man mauled to death.


In the wake of the two recent incidents, Rishi Sunak issued a statement confirming his plans to ban the breed by the end of the year.


"The American XL Bully Dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children," he said in a statement shared on social media.

"I share the nation's horror at the recent videos we've all seen.

"Yesterday we saw another suspected XL Bully Dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality.

"It's clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs.


"It's a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.

"While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public."

Following the news, many have been wondering what will happen to their XL Bully dogs - and whether or not they'll be 'destroyed'.

But what exactly does 'destroyed' mean as opposed to being 'put down' or 'put to sleep'?

XL American bully dogs are going to be banned. Credit: Getty
XL American bully dogs are going to be banned. Credit: Getty

Well, the terminology is all to do with the fact that the pet is the property of its owner legally.

Lancashire Police explains: "If the dog poses an immediate threat to the safety of the public then it can be lawfully ordered to be destroyed by the police or other responsible person (e.g. a vet/local authority).

"This power comes from the fact that a dog is classed as property and it is lawful to humanely destroy it, if it is causing immediate damage/danger to people, animals or property."


So, if your dog is dangerous and hurts someone, there’s a good chance it'll be destroyed, and you’ll receive a fine.

Now that a ban is going to be put in place, if you already have an XL Bully, it's possible that the police may take your pet off you - even if it hasn't been acting dangerous and/or a complaint has been lodged.

Police will need a warrant to retrieve the dog from your home, however.

But it isn't all negative, as there is some hope people will be able to keep their dogs.

People are wondering what the term 'destroyed' means. Credit: Getty/Zenna Pesnina
People are wondering what the term 'destroyed' means. Credit: Getty/Zenna Pesnina

If you have an XL bully and a court finds that it isn't a danger to the public, it may be put on the Index of Exempt Dogs meaning you're given a Certificate of Exemption, which lasts the duration of the dog's life.

For your pooch to be eligible, it has to have been neutered and microchipped and kept on a lead while muzzled when out in public.

Your bully would also have to be kept in a secure place that it cannot escape from.

A spokesperson from the Dog Control Coalition - which is made up of RSPCA, Blue Cross, Battersea, Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, Scottish SPCA, The Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association - told LADbible: “The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.

“The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public - but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.

“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working. The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.

“The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public.

“It is also critical that any policy designed to protect public safety is based on robust evidence and we are deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites.”

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Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: Animals, News, UK News

Britt Jones
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