XL Bully Dogs

Below is a self-explanatory email exchange.

From: Helen Hayes MP
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 at 16:19
Subject: FW: URGENT – UNANSWERED CORRESPONDENCE Member enquiry – 17669053 / ZA75634 (ref: 17669053) (Case Ref: ZA75634)
To:  Bridget Furst
Our Ref: ZA75634
17 April 2024
Dear Bridget,

Thank you again for contacting me regarding your concerns about an XL Bully meet up in Dulwich Park.I have now received the below response from Southwark Council, which I am sure you will wish to review. I am sorry about the significant delay my office experienced in receiving a response from them.I do hope the information contained in their response is helpful. Please do let me know if there are any matters you would like me to follow up on.

With best wishes,

Sent on behalf of Helen Hayes MP
Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood

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Sent: 2 April 2024 12:22
To: HAYES, Helen

Subject: FW: URGENT – UNANSWERED CORRESPONDENCE FW: Member enquiry – 17669053 / ZA75634 (ref: 17669053) (Case Ref: ZA75634)
Dear Ms. Hayes MP,

Thank you for your enquiry received on 22 September 2023, which you raised on behalf of your constituent Bridget Furst.

Southwark Council – Enquiry reference: 17669053

Please accept our apologies for the long delay in replying to you on this particular matter.

Ms Furst, chair of the Dulwich Village Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panel, along with a number of other constituents, had contacted you to express their concerns about American XL Bully owners with their dogs, along with other similar breeds, meeting up in Dulwich Park on Sat 16 September. Apparently, there were approx. 25 dogs at this unofficial event, with many dogs not muzzled.

I can fully appreciate the concerns of local residents and park users. Since this complaint was submitted, there has been a change in legislation, with amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

New restrictions on XL Bully dogs came into force on 31 December 2023, making it a legal requirement for all XL Bully dogs to be kept on a lead and muzzled when in public.

The decision to then ban XL Bully dogs was made following a concerning rise in attacks from these dangerous dogs. The ban came into force on 1 February 2024. Owning an unregistered dog after this date is a criminal offence, with owners who do not, facing a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

In Southwark, we have a small team of six Park Liaison Officers (PLOs) who patrol over 100 parks and open spaces throughout the borough, addressing crime, anti-social behaviour and breaches of park byelaws. PLOs positively engage with park users, and where appropriate, educate on responsible dog ownership.

However, banned and regulated breeds are a matter for the police and not the local authority. The police have dog handlers who are trained specifically to deal with banned and regulated breeds.

In the event that such breeds are seen in a public place off lead and/or without a muzzle then this should be reported to the police, as should any dog believed to be dangerously out of control.

When PLOs encounter a dog suspected to be from a banned breed, the owner does not comply with restrictions, or the dog appears to be dangerously out of control, then they would also report this to the police by calling 999.

I do hope that this response is helpful, however please do not hesitate to contact me should you require additional information.

Yours sincerely,

Parks, Trees & Ecology Manager

Parks & Natural Environment | Environment, Neighbourhoods & Growth

W: southwark.gov.uk


  1. Typical non-response from LBS – “not my problem mate”. Bully dogs may be a police matter but unauthorised events in parks are certainly within their remit & LBS staff could observe & themselves call the police. Still, since the clearly signed rules on dogs off-leash & cyclists breaking the 5mph speed limit are never enforced, then why should we be surprised?

    1. We have to report this to the Police. I see one sometimes on the far side of the park, whilst the owner uses apparatus the dog is on a loose lead and scary.

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