FROM tomorrow, February 1, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL bully in England and Wales without a certificate.

Owners of the XL bully dogs have just hours left to apply for a certificate of exemption if they want to keep their dog before the ban makes them illegal.

Applications must be submitted by midday today, Wednesday, January 31.

Restrictions came into force at the end of 2023 which means XL bully dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public for public safety.

To qualify for an exemption certificate, owners must prove their XL bully has been neutered by June 30.

If they have a puppy which is less than a year old on Wednesday, they must be neutered by the end of 2024, and evidence that they have done so must be provided.

The fee for registering the dog is £92.40 per dog plus taking out third party public liability insurance for the banned breed.

The government issued the ban on the breed following a series of attacks involving XL bullies.

Calls to ban the breed grew following a series of tragedies, including the death of 10-year-old Jack Lis from Caerphilly, who was killed by XL Bully dog 'Beast' in November 2021.

Just over a year later, in December 2022, 83-year-old Shirley Patrick was attacked by a dog at her house in Heol Fawr - just half a mile from Jack's home. She died 17 days later.

In April 2023 a five-month-old baby was rushed to hospital following an attack in Penyrheol, Caerphilly, and just days later armed police were called out after two boys aged five and seven were attacked by a dog in Graig-y-Rhacca.

Earlier in January, the Argus reported how an XL Bully had left a delivery driver scarred for life after a terrifying attack in a residential street in Newport.

XL Bully owners will also have to make sure their dogs fit criteria such as being neutered, microchipped and muzzled in public spaces. More requirements for the exemption can be found here.

Dr Samantha Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “Although the first part of the ban came in on December 31, 2023 which includes the requirement for XL Bullies to be muzzled and on a lead in a public place, existing owners have until midday on January 31 to apply for the exemption which allows them to legally keep their dog so that they are safe.