DOG lovers devastated by the thought of “innocent animals” being victimised or put down are preparing to march down Southend High Street protesting against the XL Bully ban. 

Dozens of residents are expected to join the “Refuse to Euthanise Bully’s” protest on Saturday in Southend, taking place in unison with a march in Manchester. 

Echo: Location - Southend High StreetLocation - Southend High Street (Image: Google Maps)

Organisers fear that the ban, which means animal charity’s and rehoming centres can no longer rehome XL Bullies, will mean there is an increase in cases of the breed being put down. 

It comes as the Government has made it a legal requirement for all XL bully dogs to be kept on a lead and muzzled when in public, as well as making it illegal to breed, sell, advertise, gift, exchange, abandon or let them stray following a rise in attacks.

Hadleigh residents Debra Lawrence, 65, is helping to organise the march, and said: “I feel strongly and outraged by this as a dog lover because it’s putting healthy dogs down.

“It’s a crime against humanity and a ban is beyond ridiculous.

Echo: Joining the protest - Debra LawrenceJoining the protest - Debra Lawrence (Image: Debra Lawrence)

“XL bully owners who are responsible are now having to face impacts caused by those who are being irresponsible and are treating their dogs as weapons.

“What needs to happen is these irresponsible owners should be put in prison and banned from owning a dog, and the dog should be given the opportunity to be retrained with a good trainer.

“However, I do agree with the point that all dogs should be on a lead as that’s responsible ownership.

“I hope all dog lovers come on Saturday in solidarity with us.”

The first part of a phased ban came into force on December 31, meaning all XL Bullies must be muzzled and kept on a lead in public. 

All XL Bullies must be registered by February 1 when the ban fully comes into place, at which point it will be illegal to own a unregistered XL Bully. 

Echo: Ban - XL bullyBan - XL bully (Image: PA)

Ms Lawrence added: “The Government is stopping the breeding of dogs and saying any dogs already in shelters can’t be rehomed.

“Shelters have a choice of keeping them or putting them down but because they can’t keep all of them, they’re having to put dogs down.

“I can’t bear for more XL bullies to lose their lives so this could be our only chance of getting the ban overturned.”

The march is taking place from 1pm until 4pm on Saturday, and a petition will be available to sign.