OWNERS of a soon-to-be-banned breed of dog which has been responsible for several local attacks have been warned new legislation is being readied by Barnsley Council - and a roll-out of a new programme will be enforced by next year.

From December 31 breeding, selling, advertising, re-homing and allowing an XL bully dog to stray will be illegal while from February 1 it will be illegal to own one without a certificate of exemption.

Owners who fail to comply could face a criminal record and an unlimited fine, and their dog could be seized.

Coun Wendy Cain, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, said: “We’re currently in the early planning stages of our response to this new legislation, which will be confirmed in due course.

“We will work to make sure we meet the requirements put in place by the government under the Dangerous Dogs Act.”

The council did not disclose whether any such dogs are currently in its kennels, but South Yorkshire Police confirmed a quarter of all pets seized in recent months were the breed.

Assistant Chief Constable Dan Thorpe said: “Without action we fear it is only a matter of time until we too experience another fatality within South Yorkshire.

“The announcement that the XL bully breed will be banned by the end of the year is a positive step in helping police forces, organisations and charities control the harsh reality we are experiencing.

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“In addition to the threat these dogs pose to the public, we also must appreciate the danger and risk posed by these dogs to our officers - they are humans too.

“As a force, we are leading the way and sharing our best practice around early intervention to reduce the risk and act on concerns when they are reported.

“Our efforts are stronger with your help, and we continue to urge communities to report their concerns to us.

“We are here to help - If we know a dog poses a risk, or is causing fear, we can step in.

“Tackling the threat these dogs pose to innocent members of our communities remains our priority, but it must be acknowledged that the breeding of the XL bully can often be linked to serious and organised crime, with these dogs being seen as a status symbol.

“‘Puppy farms’ and ‘backyard’ breeders sell these dogs to fund their criminality, it’s a vicious circle of bad breeding and irresponsible owners, with the dogs’ welfare sadly of least importance.

“Anyone with concerns about an owner, or dog in the community is asked to report online, via live chat or by calling 101.”

Another similar breed - a cane corso X - was responsible for attacking a ten-month-old boy in Hoyland last month which left the youngster requiring surgery.

The force receives between 140 to 185 calls a month for dogs being out of control, causing injury or fear within communities.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “I welcome the government’s announcement, which will give breeders and owners a timeline to work with, including training their dogs to wear a muzzle and walk on a lead as well as stop mating the breed.

“This measure doesn’t solve the problem of dangerous dogs completely, but it is a step in the right direction and I thank the government for listening to people’s concerns and taking steps to prevent future deaths and serious injuries from this breed.

“This is an issue we identified a couple of years ago in South Yorkshire and I think the police here have led the way in raising the matter nationally.

“I also thank the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners for taking this up with ministers after I wrote to them about the dangers posed by this breed, especially after we emerged from lockdown.”