A small protest took place in Bolton town centre this afternoon, Saturday, against the banning of American XL bully dogs.

Earlier this month the government announced that the breed would be banned following a series of attacks.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said that attacks were “devastating for the victims” and “more now needs to be done to stop them and protect the public".

The government has said there will be a transition period and owners of the XL bully dogs do not need to take any action at this stage.

But a small protest against this change took place in Bolton outside the town hall at around 1pm.

No dogs were present but people attended, holding signs of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak muzzled with messages stating “Muzzle Rishi” and “Don’t Bully My Breed".

Among those to make their feelings known was protest organiser Paul Hopwood.

He said: “I’m here today to demonstrate that these bullies are actually not dangerous.

“They are only dangerous in the wrong hands.

“I own two and they are never any problems.

“They are in the wrong hands.

“People want to use them as a fashion accessory like a bracelet.

“They don’t really know exactly how powerful they can be.

“In the wrong hands they can be dangerous.

“In the right hands they are beautiful loyal loving dogs.”

The Bolton News: Paul Hopwood with his XL bully dog SkiePaul Hopwood with his XL bully dog Skie (Image: Paul Hopwood)

Paul also explained what he thought should be done to ensure the dogs do not pose a threat.

He added: “Socialising, interaction with other dogs, education, I need to educate these owners really.

“It’s just terrible that our breed is being blamed for a minority who do not know how to handle the animals.

“It’s us that are getting blamed for a few of them.”

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1992 a definition of the American XL bully breed type needs to be specified for the authorities to be able to impose a ban.

The government then adds them to the list of dogs banned under the act, making it an offence to own, breed, gift or sell one of these.

The government has said this will be done by the end of the year.

In a video statement posted to X last week, Mr Sunak said: “The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children.

“It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs, it’s a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.

"I have tasked ministers to bring together police and experts, to firstly define the breed of dog behind these attacks, with the view to then outlawing it.

“These dogs are dangerous, I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe.”