A LEADING city councillor has called the proposed ban on American XL bully dogs a "knee-jerk" reaction which could push breeding 'underground.'

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the breed would be banned at the end of the year.

However, cllr Richard Udall, chair of the licensing and environmental health committee at Worcester City Council said owners were the problem and licenses were needed to ensure only trained owners could keep the breed.

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He said: "I am not sure banning dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act is a good idea. I always believe the dogs are not the problem, the problem is usually the dog owner.  

"I fear knee-jerk reactions like a ban will just push ownership underground and create an illegal market for the dogs, putting them into the hands of the irresponsible dog owners and people who want to own them as a weapon or as a status symbol.  

"We need to issue licenses to the owners, make sure they know and understand the breed and only allow responsible and trained owners to have a licence and to breed the dogs."

Tbe call for the ban follows several attacks by XL bullies including Ian Price, 52, who was described as a “pillar of the community”, after he died after being attacked by two suspected XL bullies in the Staffordshire village of Stonnall on Thursday.

XL Bully puppies are still available to buy in Worcester despite the impending ban at the end of the year.

Worcester News: A listing for XL Bully puppies in Worcester can be seen on Gumtree.A listing for XL Bully puppies in Worcester can be seen on Gumtree. (Image: Gumtree)

On Gumtree, a listing for XL Bully puppies in Worcester is still active, with the post selling nine male and three female puppies.

The description attached to the listing describes the dogs as having "perfect temperament" and being from a "top quality bloodline".

In response to the listing, Cllr Udall said: "At the moment it's still legal to advertise the pups for sale, but I would urge people not to buy unless they are competent, trained and have an understanding of the breed.

"All dogs can bite and all dogs are capable of causing harm.  I would prefer to see these types of dogs, which can kill, to be only available to licensed experts of the breed".  

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Robin Walker MP, a self-proclaimed "dog-lover" has backed the ban and believes the government is right to take "rapid action".

He said: “The approach of formally defining the breed and then asking owners to register and get their dogs neutered and to undertake not to breed from them seems a sensible precaution and I hope will limit the risks of attacks on humans or other animals.

"I am a dog lover and I think that in the vast majority of cases responsible owners can be trusted to keep dogs safely but it appears that this particular breed has been targeted by people who have sought to use it as a threat and it is the irresponsible owners and breeders who need to be dealt with."