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'Our American XL bully is warm and cuddly – when other dogs attack him he hides' – Wales Online

Grayce Atherton says plans to ban the breed are a result of a witch hunt against the massive pets and insists hers is the gentlest dog she’s known
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An American XL bully owner has hit out at what she says is a "witch hunt" claiming her pet is "soft and cuddly". Grayce Atherton says their family pet Zeus is not at all aggressive and when he has been attacked by other dogs he hides rather than fight back.
And she says there is a breed 'witch-hunt' against the animals insisting if they are treated right then there is no cause for concern. The 41-year-old mother of two was speaking as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the breed would be banned before the end of this year.
The move comes following a spate of attacks which have seen six people killed by the dogs over recent months. Statistics show XL bullies have been responsible for 50% of all attacks on people and other dogs in the last two years – and 70% of all dog attack deaths.
But Grace told Cornwall Live that her pet is the gentlest she's ever known. Her family took in their then seven-month-old American XL bully last year after a life of owning small dogs and she says he's the "most amazing" family dog.
She said their 98-pound pet has brought "so much" to her family's life. Joining many owners to defend the breed, a variant of the American bulldog, she agrees it is the "perfect" family pet.
Numerous dog sites claim the animals are nothing more than strong, cuddly lap dogs. And Mrs Atherton vehemently believes this.
She told how despite being apprehensive at first when her husband Mark, 47, first suggested adding an XL bully to their family, which includes son Harrison, last year this had since changed. She said: "Now he is just amazing even though when we first got him he came from somewhere else and was just being fed McDonald's so I was a bit apprehensive about him, especially having a son who was 10 at the time."
She said they had previously had a pet Jack Russell and having only had small dogs they were surprised to find their XL bully puppy was "like a soft big brother" to her eldest son's cat – playing with it and sleeping next to it. She said: "I think it's all down to the owner.
"It's how you treat them once you've got them and all we've ever done is nurture him. He's so big and so warm and not aggressive at all. He's just slobbery."
Grayce, from Redruth, said when they were out for walks she would often see people pick up their smaller dogs or crossing the road at the sight of Zeus, which she attributes to the XL bully's bad reputation and huge size. In 2022, there were 10 fatal dog attacks in the UK, six of which involved an American XL bully.
"We are aware he's a big dog and other pet owners are quite frightened and will pick up their dogs and cross to the other side of the road and things like that. But he's not aggressive in any way and he's never even quivered his lip at any of us."
She says despite never showing signs of aggression, Zeus has been attacked by other dogs in the past. "Once a lurcher attacked him and he squealed and ran off to hide behind my husband," she said. "That's how aggressive he is."
Speaking of recent news about vicious attacks that have prompted calls for the breed to be banned, Mrs Atherton said: "I think it's absolutely horrific but I do believe it is down to the ownership and how you treat them and I don't think it's just this breed. A lurcher bit my dog and the owner admitted her dog was not good with other dogs and she should be kept on the lead. You hear about it in all dogs. It will be another breed next.
"It's a witch hunt and it's down to the owners to be able to love and care for these animals. They are big dogs and need attention and should be treated as any other dog at the end of the day.
"If I beat my Jack Russell, leave it without water or it isn't being looked after then it's going to do something silly. Any breed can hurt somebody. It's all about caring and being loving to animals. It's not the dogs' fault."
American XL bullys will be banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act by the end of the year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed. The prime minister said: "It’s clear the American XL Bully dog is a danger to our communities. I’ve ordered urgent work to define and ban this breed so we can end these violent attacks and keep people safe."
Experts and animal charities including the RSPCA and British Veterinarian Association have long warned that breed-specific bans are ineffective and could potentially result in thousands of innocent dogs being put down. The pit bull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the dogo argentino and the fila brasileiro are the four breeds currently banned in the UK.
The RPSCA says: "We believe focusing on the type of dog, rather than their individual actions, is a flawed and failing approach. We're very concerned to see more discussions around adding another type of dog to the banned list. Dog aggression is highly complex, and taking a breed-focused approach is fundamentally flawed."


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