RSPCA, Battersea and Blue Cross launch XL Bully neutering scheme - Veterinary Practice
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RSPCA, Battersea and Blue Cross launch XL Bully neutering scheme

The RSPCA, Battersea and Blue Cross have jointly launched a neutering scheme for owners of XL Bully type dogs struggling with the cost to help them comply with the exemption requirements following the ban on these dogs

The government has set a legal requirement that all exempted XL Bully-type dogs must be neutered. Dogs aged less than one year old by 31 January 2024 must be neutered by 31 December 2024, and dogs older than one must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

In response, the three animal charities have set up a scheme for XL bully-type dog owners who have exempted or have applied for exemption for their pets. The scheme will offer financial support towards the cost of neutering a dog if their owner cannot afford the full cost.

The scheme will launch on 5 February 2024 and be managed through Blue Cross’s Veterinary Care Fund (VCF). Practices can apply online on behalf of their clients, and the charities will provide up to a maximum of £250* towards the cost of neutering eligible XL Bully-type dogs. To find out more about the VCF and how to register your practice to apply for funds on behalf of a client in need, visit the veterinary care fund – practice information.

Four hundred fifty vet practices have already signed up for the Blue Cross VCF, and the charities are encouraging other practices to sign up where support is needed for owners of XL bully-type dogs to neuter their pets and meet the conditions to exempt their dogs.

As part of the conditions to be added to the exempt list, the owner has to send confirmation of neutering, signed by their veterinary surgeon, to DEFRA.

Paul Manktelow, chief vet at Blue Cross, said: “The ban is here, and it is vital that pet owners apply for exemption and follow the required procedures without delay, as time is running out. We urge the veterinary sector to support these owners in getting the exemption and offer this financial support to try to keep as many pets with their people as possible. During this cost of living crisis, the need for help through our Veterinary Care Fund grew exponentially, so we know people need our help, and we are doing all that we can in such difficult times for pet owners.”

Caroline Allen, the RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer, said: “The ban is upsetting and unsettling for responsible XL Bully owners who are having to pay costs for the exemption application, third party insurance and neutering.

“We are aware that for some owners, the cost of neutering may be a barrier to exemption. In order to help these owners, Blue Cross, Battersea and RSPCA have developed a scheme to support them. We hope this will help avoid some situations where owners might otherwise choose euthanasia because of cost concerns.”

Lucy Hastings, Battersea’s director of operations, said: “At a time when many owners across the country are already facing increasing costs for their pets, we fear that the additional costs XL Bully owners must now pay to be allowed to keep their much-loved dogs may prove impossible for some to afford. This scheme will now help prevent responsible owners from potentially having to make a very difficult decision. We hope that one day the breed ban will be reversed and fairer, more effective legislation will be introduced instead, but in the meantime, we are here to support owners and their pets in any way we can.” 

Vets are asked to have conversations with owners to see if dogs are suitable to be put forward for the scheme by considering whether there are any obvious behavioural or health problems that might make the dog unsuitable for the exemption process.

The RSPCA, Battersea and Blue Cross are part of the Dog Control Coalition, which also includes Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, The Kennel Club, British Veterinary Association, USPCA, PDSA, Wood Green and Scottish SPCA.

Behind the scenes, the Coalition’s advocacy and vet teams have been working to lobby the government to minimise the impact of this legislation on responsible dog owners, behaviourally sound dogs and veterinary professionals and their teams.

*The amount of the award will vary based on the dog’s gender and procedure. Payment will be made directly to the veterinary practice.

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