An XL Bully owner who says her dog is her daughter’s best friend is attending a protest in London this weekend in a bid to save the breed.
Michelle West, of Napier Road, Northfleet has made placards for the rally outside Westminster today showing her dog Ossie with seven-year-old daughter Elizabeth.
It bears the slogan “Breeds don’t make bad dogs; People make bad dogs.”
Ahead of the demo, she told KentOnline “People need to take responsibility for their dog. They are blaming the wrong end of the lead.”
The American XL bully dog breed will be banned by the end of the year after a spate of attacks, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed, calling the dog a “danger to our communities, particularly our children”.
But Michelle is heartbroken the breed is being blamed and not their irresponsible owners and instead wants to see changes to Breed Specific Legislation, which she says simply does not work.
“It’s about educating and regulating the people, not the breed,” she explained.
Michelle has owned two-year-old Ossie, who is not named after hell-raising rockstar Ozzy Osbourne, from a puppy and says he has the most lovely temperament.
“I’ve never known a dog so affectionate and soppy,” she said. “He just wants to be near you all the time and loves being cuddled and squeezed.”
The 38-year-old assistant accountant believes it is the owners who are to blame for so-called dangerous dogs and wants laws to require owners to need a licence to own any dog.
“I would happily take an assessment and pay to have a licence if it means protecting the breed,” she added.
And Michelle says she feels sorry for dogs like Ossie who now have a bad reputation.
“When we take him for a walk now people cross the road,” she said.
Michelle says he will have to be wear a muzzle whenever he is not in his registered property, which will be her partner’s house, as they have joint custody.
“He is going to find it very distressing,” she said. “My daughter will be devastated at seeing him with one on because she won’t understand why.”
Michelle is also sad her dog will never be able to go for a run, as the rules state he must be on a lead outside the house at all times.
“He does zoomies around the garden, but that’s the only way he’ll be able to run.”
Michelle says Ossie has been brought up as a pet in a nurturing environment but she believes any dog could turn violent if it is not looked after properly.
“It’s the ones who have been bred because it’s become popular to have one and they want to make them big and scary.
“Bred the incorrect way you get the violent dogs who become a weapon. Bred the correct way, you get Ossie.”
She added: “He is so soft and loving and it breaks my heart when someone flinches when he approaches them.
“He just wants to say hello.”
She believes the ban is just creating unnecessary fear and chaos around the breed, and more emphasis should be placed on education.
“If you run away they will chase you because they think it’s a game,” she said. “Just stand still when they are trying to jump up to say hello, and use a commanding voice to tell them to sit.”
Since the impending ban an animal shelter has told Kent Online it has been inundated with requests to rehome XL Bully dogs, with some owners saying they’ll put their pets down if they can’t get help.
But Large Breed Dog Rescue, based in Greenhithe, urged people “not to panic” after receiving an influx in the number of calls following news the American XL Bully is set to be banned by the end of the year
It follows a series of recent attacks – including a man who was killed in Staffordshire last week.
The prime minister has said he has tasked ministers with working with police and experts to define the breed “with a view to outlawing it”.
It would be the first breed to be banned since the Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991.