A WILTON resident with a passion for XL Bully dogs is determined to stand up for the breed, saying "they are gentle and loving".

It comes after  new laws came into force on Sunday making it illegal to breed, sell, or abandon XL bullies.

Nikki Grennell, 46, has a lot of experience with bully breeds and was in tears the day she heard the breed was to be banned.  

She said: "I just broke down at work."

"We have always had bully breeds. I have two French Bulldogs now and have recently rescued an XL Bully.  They are gentle giants.

Salisbury Journal: Nikki and KarmaNikki and Karma (Image: Nikki Grennell)

She added: "We have had no problem with the breed at all. They can be a bit bonkers and will have a funny five minutes but that's all." 

Nikki admitted she could see why people might feel intimidated by the breed. 

"They can look scary but when treated properly, they are not."

Salisbury Journal: Nikki Grennell loves XL Bully dogsNikki Grennell loves XL Bully dogs (Image: Nikki Grennell)

Read more: Government warning about XL Bullies

Nikki took in Karma, a 3 year old XL Bully just recently.

She said: "I fell in love with her. There has been no sign of aggression at all, but I am introducing her very slowly. She was more scared of the Bulldogs than they were of her. I have had to coax her to come out of a room."

Following a series of aggressive incidents, the government legislated from December 31, it is illegal to breed, sell, advertise, gift, exchange, abandon or let XL Bully dogs stray. The dogs must also be kept on a lead and muzzled when in public. 

Salisbury Journal: Standing up for XL Bully DogsStanding up for XL Bully Dogs (Image: Nikki Grennell)

Nikki said: "My son also has an XL Bully. He has had her since she was three months old and she is now nine months. I thought it just isn't fair. She hasn't done anything wrong."

From February 1, 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless the dog has a certificate of exemption. 

The dog must also be fitted with a microchip and owners must arrange to have the dog neutered. 

Salisbury Journal: Karma playing with her ballKarma playing with her ball (Image: Nikki Grennell)

Read more: Salisbury woman provides pet physio treatments

Nikki said: "I know XL Bullies can look intimidating but all dogs can turn if they are not cared for.  Some owners are being threatened or experiencing cyberbullying because they own an XL Bully. It's not fair."

Nikki admitted she was concerned what would have happened to Karma if she hadn't taken her in. 

She added: "She is now settling in and I love her. I think she loves me too. She has certainly learned to take up most of the bed at night, but that may be because she is comforted by being near me.

"If I could have afforded it, I would have rescued more."

For more information on what to do if you have an XL Bully dog, go to gov.uk