Scotland will consider introducing a ban on American XL bully dogs, Humza Yousaf said, although the First Minister insisted a “firm decision” has not yet been made.
He spoke after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made clear his determination to ban the dogs – a move which comes after a fatal dog attack on a man in England.
He pledged a ban on the animals will be in place south of the border before the end of this year.
It comes after it emerged a man died after being attacked on Thursday by two dogs – suspected to be bully XLs – in Staffordshire.
Mr Sunak said he had ordered ministers to bring together police and experts to define the breed of dog behind these attacks so they can then be outlawed.
In a video posted on social media, the Conservative Party leader said: “We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year.
“These dogs are dangerous, I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”
Mr Yousaf confirmed he had asked his officials “to liaise with the UK Government to understand a little bit more about the proposals in relation to the ban”.
Speaking on a visit to a nursery in Rutherglen, the First Minister added: “We have not made a firm decision yet.”
With SNP backbencher Christine Grahame bringing forward a member’s bill to Holyrood on dog welfare, Mr Yousaf said that proposed legislation could mean “there may be opportunities to consider a ban up here in Scotland”.
But he stated: “We haven’t come to a firm conclusion on that.”
Animal welfare charity the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) posted a statement from the Dog Control Coalition on its website.
It read: “The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.
“The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public – but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.
“For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working. The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.
“The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public.
“It is also critical that any policy designed to protect public safety is based on robust evidence and we are deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites.”
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