A BASINGSTOKE woman who owns an American bully breed said she was “devastated” to hear that they will be banned from next year.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous because of the backlash she has received following the announcement on the ban, hopes to raise awareness of the breed and is calling on the government to change its mind.

The ban comes into force at the end of the year when American XL bullies cannot be lawfully rehomed or sold after December 31.

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It follows a spate of recent attacks and deaths reportedly involving the breed.

Any American bully XL in rescue centres in England and Wales will have to be put down unless they can be rehomed before the end of the year.

The government has offered £200 to any owner who has their American bully XL type dog put down.

From January 1, owners of American bullies XL type dogs will be required to have them muzzled and on a lead when in public, and they have until February to apply for an exemption to own a banned breed.

The Basingstoke dog owner said her pet is not an XL but is classed as type because of his height, meaning she will need to muzzle him when out in public from January.

She said putting down her two-and-a-half-year-old dog was never an option, adding: “I was devastated when I heard. I cried for about a week. I have a bully but he’s so soft.”

The 51-year-old is supporting the campaign group Don’t Ban Me – Licence Me, which has launched a legal attempt to overturn the government’s ban on American XL bully dogs.

She believes the problem lies with irresponsible owners rather than the breed of dog, saying: “The problem is with the owners not the dogs. These unscrupulous people who have these dogs and train them to be aggressive. It won’t stop. They will just go and get a German Shepherd or another dog that can be aggressive. It makes no sense.”

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She added: “I don’t let my dog off the lead because I have always felt he’s a big dog and if there was trouble, he would be the one blamed. He doesn’t like people he doesn’t know and he’s dog selective. This is very normal. He has his friends he goes out with in enclosed places. Anyone who knows him, he loves, he’s the sweetest boy and he sleeps in the middle of us, it’s like having a toddler.”

The dog owner said a bull mastiff which was off its lead attacked her dog recently but her pet was blamed.

She said: “The owner told me ‘get that thing muzzled’. This dog charged at us and it was the most scary experience of my life. My boy fought back like any dog would and I was screaming at the owner to put her dog on a lead. It was just awful.”

She added: “People are judging me and say ‘get that devil dog away’ and cross the road. It’s horrible.”

The dog owner is taking part in a march in London on December 2, which she said will be “emotional” because many of the dogs will be put down afterwards.

“There will be a cull,” she warned, adding: “The rescues won’t take them and there are already dogs tied up outside vets. I’m receiving constant messages from people asking what to do. I don’t have the answer. The ban won’t solve anything and will cause misery for so many people.”