My American Bully XL may look scary… but I trust her with my nine-month-old – ‘heartbroken’ owners defend giant breed that has now been banned in UK after spate of vicious dog attacks
- EXCLUSIVE: Bully owner Anna Thomas speaks of heartbreak at ban imposed
Anna Thomas was scared of dogs when she was growing up. Bitten by a Jack Russell when she was a child, she never thought she would one day be the owner of an XL Bully.
But, now 21 and with a nine-month-old son, she cannot imagine a life without her beloved Ocean.
The Pembrokeshire mum says it has been ‘heartbreaking’ to see how the UK has condemned the breed after seeing the horrors of the huge dogs viscously attacking innocent bystanders.
Like humans, she claims that some Bullys are brought up in cruel homes because they are bought for the wrong reasons. She says they must now be the target of any new legislation – not gentle family pets like hers.
On Friday, PM Rishi Sunak announced the breed are set to be banned by the end of the year – a decision which has devastated Bully owner Anna.
Now 21 and with a nine-month-old son, Anna Thomas cannot imagine a life without her beloved Ocean (pictured)
Bear’s (pictured) owner says he is gentle and he trusts him to sit with his young daughters
Bear’s (pictured) owner says he has always had boundaries in place meaning his children aren’t left alone with the dog or in a situation which could trigger him
Like humans, Anna claims that some Bullys are brought up in cruel homes because they are bought for the wrong reasons
Speaking to MailOnline, she said: ‘It’s really heartbreaking to see everything that is going on at the minute. The breed is getting such a bad name.
‘She’s amazing. She does have moments where she gets excited – like any dog – but the love she has!
‘My dog is very lazy more than energetic – she would much rather mope around the house and have the odd cuddle with you.
‘Ocean does look a bit scary – XL Bullys do have that mean face – but they are the most loving, gentle dogs I have ever come across.
‘The day that the news article came out about the attack in Birmingham there was a lady that was in her car with her daughter and the lady didn’t get out of the car until she’s seen that Ocean had gone back inside the house.
‘That broke my heart because Ocean loves kids.’
Ocean, who is seven months old, is just two months younger than Isaac – Anna’s son with partner Morgan.
She decided to get her after seeing her sister’s four XL Bullys being so loving with her three children.
The Pembrokeshire mum (pictured with Ocean) says it has been ‘heartbreaking’ to see how the UK has condemned the breed after seeing the horrors of the huge dogs viscously attacking innocent bystanders
Ocean, who is seven months old, is just two months younger than Isaac (pictured) – Anna’s son with partner Morgan
Anna says she was scared of dogs before she got Ocean (pictured with Anna’s partner Morgan) but she’s completely changed her view on all dogs
Anna said: ‘If my partner would let me I would have loads! I would love to get a friend for Ocean but that is something I am worried about now with the ban’
In a video announcement posted to his X – formerly Twitter – account on Friday, the PM said XL Bullys would be banned following a ‘pattern of behaviour’ that he said ‘cannot go on’.
READ MORE: XL bullies WILL be banned as attacks claim yet more victims: Rishi Sunak finally vows to crack down on the ‘mutant’ dogs – as man dies after being set upon by two of the animals, and horrific footage emerges of boy, 10, mauled as he plays outside his house
Anna told MailOnline she ‘hasn’t stopped crying’ since she found out.
She said: ‘When I first read it I just instantly started bawling my eyes out. Although there was talk about it I didn’t think the Prime Minister would be today vowing to put a ban in place. It’s heartbreaking. I just look at my dog now and I start crying.
‘My sister has four of them. She’s absolutely devastated – she’s in bits as well.’
Anna added: ‘I’ll do anything I can to keep my dog. If they say I have to do certain things then I have to follow those rules just to make sure I keep her.
‘My biggest fear is that they’ll take her away – that’s why I’ve been panicking so much. It’s absolutely devastating. I’ll do anything I can to keep my dog.
‘Of course I wouldn’t let them take my dog. There’s no way. I’d do anything I could to keep her – she wouldn’t harm a fly. She’s so soft and gentle.’
Anna says she was scared of dogs before she got Ocean but she’s completely changed her view on all dogs.
‘I had a bad experience when I was a child with a Jack Russell, so I was quite wary of dogs then – I did grow up quite scared of dogs,’ she said.
‘In the wrong hands XL Bullys are a force to be reckoned and if you don’t bring them up right then that’s when problems occur. But in the right hands they are so loving – they are brilliant dogs.
Father-of-four Dan Bussue, who owns a two-year-old XL Bully called Bear, is devastated in light of the news the breed will be banned, as he fears he may ‘lose his best friend’
Bear’s owner says he has a very strict routine with lots of walking and obedience training
‘If my partner would let me I would have loads! I would love to get a friend for Ocean but that is something I am worried about now with the ban. I don’t think I’d own another dog other than an XL.’
However father-of-four Dan Bussue, who owns a two-year-old XL Bully called Bear, is devastated in light of the news the breed will be banned, as he fears he may ‘lose his best friend’.
‘He means everything,’ he told MailOnline. ‘He’s a big integral part of our family.’
But Mr Bussue, from Leicester, said owners need to know what they’re getting into with such a ‘powerful’ dog.
The driving instructor says that while Bear is gentle and he trusts him to sit with his young daughters, he has always had boundaries in place meaning his children aren’t left alone with the dog or in a situation which could trigger him.
Mr Bussue said: ‘I wouldn’t say he’s boisterous but he can be clumsy I would say, so we have to be responsible in terms of we don’t just leave our baby around him.
‘In the house we have a very strict routine with Bear. In his walking routine obviously we do a lot of playing, we do a lot of walking and we do a lot of training, so obedience training as well.’
Regarding the ban, Mr Bussue said that while as an owner he is heartbroken, he can understand why it is set to come into place.
Anna (pictured with Isaac and Ocean) told MailOnline she ‘hasn’t stopped crying’ since she found out the breed would be banned. She said: ‘When I first read it I just instantly started bawling my eyes out’
Anna said: ‘In the wrong hands XL Bullys are a force to be reckoned and if you don’t bring them up right then that’s when problems occur. But in the right hands they are so loving – they are brilliant dogs’
Anna – who loves the way Ocean looks after her nine-month-old – insists that the breed are not the problem
He said: ‘I knew the commitment going into it but I didn’t know the amount of work that’s involved, however I have adapted to do that and it’s become my life. The responsibility that comes with having a big dog.
‘They’re definitely not for everyone and not everybody should have these dogs. I think there’s not enough education about having these dogs in the first place.’
Mr Bussue gets up at 5am to walk Bear, before coming home again at lunch to take him out and then walking him a third time in the evening. He believes there should be a competency test in place for owning any breed of large dog.
XL Bullys are not yet banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act. However, the PM announced on Friday they would be following a surge of fatal maulings.
The ‘mutant’ breed of beasts have been behind the majority of fatal dog attacks in the UK since 2021, having slaughtered 10 out of the 14 people mauled in deadly rampages over the past two years.
Deaths caused by dog attacks have more than doubled in the past two years, from four in 2021 to a record 10 in 2022.
Two of four fatal dog attacks in the UK in 2021 involved a Bully XL, with the number increasing to at least six out of 10 last year. Two people have been killed this year by the breed.
On Sunday, 11-year-old Ana Paun from Birmingham became the latest victim to be brutalised by one of the rampaging hounds, with a video of the attack prompting Home Secretary Suella Braverman to seek ‘urgent advice’ on banning the dogs.
Bear’s owner said while as an owner he is heartbroken, he can understand why the ban is set to come into place
Dab Bussue believes there should be a competency test in place for owning any breed of large dog
But Anna – who loves the way Ocean looks after her nine-month-old – insists that the breed are not the problem.
She added: ‘She’s brilliant with him. There’s nobody she loves more than my baby.
‘If he’s lying down on the rug she’ll lie next to him. If we’ve got the baby monitor and she can hear him on the baby monitor at night time she just lies next to the baby monitor.
‘It’s so sweet that she loves him so much. It makes me cry, honestly!
‘There has been a lot of panic thinking what would happen if they got banned – would they come and take my dog who has done absolutely nothing wrong?
‘There has been a few times where I’ve thought: “Oh my gosh” – because social media does scare people, and I have read things and I’ve thought: ‘What if they’re right?’
‘But then I feel so bad for even questioning it because I look at my dog, I look at her temperament and I wouldn’t change her for the world.
‘I don’t think they should be banned as a breed but I think there needs to be a lot more put in to seeing where they are going and making sure they are going to people who want them for a family dog.
On Wednesday hundreds of XL Bully owners posted the ‘soft side of the breed’ on social media
‘Unfortunately because of their look and because they look so scary, the wrong sort of people are wanting them. It’s sad because the wrong sort of people are wanting them for the wrong reasons and that’s giving them a bad rep now.’
On Wednesday hundreds of XL Bully owners posted the ‘soft side of the breed’ on social media.
Stories spread across Instagram saw the dogs cosied up to babies and kissing toddlers.
Dr John Tulloch, the Lecturer in Veterinary Public Health at the University of Liverpool, said that had XL Bullys not been chosen by organisations to help their criminal activities the breed might not be in the position it is today.
He warned that the rate of dog bites can often be traced back to the communities they are brought up in – with ‘almost a straight line’ of increase between how deprived a community is and how many dog bites there are.
Dr Tulloch, who was a vet before going into academia, explained: ‘Is it to do with how the animals are kept or lifestyles? It’s really hard to know.
‘We do know that there is a large organized crime element in breeding and selling of dogs.
‘I do genuinely believe that if organized crime had decided to look after a different, large, powerful dog, train it and breed it in exactly the same way, encourage it to behave like they’re behaving, I think we would have been having exactly the same discussion about a different type of dog.
Stories spread across Instagram saw the dogs cosied up to babies and kissing toddlers
‘Those dogs are in vogue within that party. And by 10 years time it will be a different dog that is bread and looked after treated in the same way and used for the same purposes.
READ MORE: What happened the last time Britain banned dangerous dogs – and the mistakes that the Government must not repeat this time around
‘You could breed any big dog to be able to be viscous and violent if you treat them in a certain way and bred a certain character.
‘I think it’s very much the temperament of the dog is going to be how they are bred and how they are looked after and what they are trained and treated to do.
‘They’re often being kept in horrendous conditions, looked after really badly, beaten up – treated viciously so they are vicious themselves.’
James McNally – known as the Dog Bite Solicitor – added: ‘An awful lot is about it’s about education, as to the potential dangers that a dog faces, because every single case that we deal with, you can see was entirely preventable.
‘It goes back to someone thinking – should I own a dog in the first place.’
As the mercury has been rising over the summer, so have the reports of killer canines setting upon victims including a woman who died after being mauled by Rottweilers and a number of children who have been scarred for life.
Elisa Allen, of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), said: ‘It is an undeniable fact that most serious and fatal dog attacks are by bully breeds.’
On Wednesday hundreds of XL Bully owners posted the ‘soft side of the breed’ on social media
XL Bullys are not yet banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act. However, the PM announced on Friday they would be following a surge of fatal maulings
Last week MailOnline exclusively revealed the rise of the Franken-Bully, a ‘mutant’ breed of the American Bully XL that some experts fear are ‘too dangerous to live’.
Underground breeders are creating giant ‘mutant crossbreeds’ by mating banned pitbulls with legal mastiffs and bulldogs to evade dangerous dogs laws.
It comes amid fresh calls for XL Bullys to be banned in Britain after shocking data revealed the breed has been involved in the majority of fatal dog attacks in the UK since 2021.
Two in four deadly dog attacks in the UK in 2021 involved the XL bulldogs – rising to six in 10 in 2022, and fears there could be many more fatalities if urgent action isn’t taken to stop the rise of the generically engineered American crosses from reaching Britain’s shores.
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