The RSPCA has issued a reminder to XL Bully owners in Dorset that they have less than one week to exempt their pets from the law.

Online applications to exempt an XL Bully close at noon on Wednesday, January 31.

It will be illegal to own an XL bully in England and Wales after this date if the exemption process has not been completed.

Dr Samantha Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “Our message to XL Bully owners who want to exempt their dog is, please don’t leave it too late.

“Whilst there are ongoing legal challenges, we don’t know when these will take place or what the outcome will be - but as it stands, from February 1, XL Bully owners will need to have a certificate of exemption to legally keep them.

“If XL Bully owners do not have a certificate of exemption from this date, their dog will be illegal which means that owners could get a criminal record, their dog could be seized, put to sleep and they could face an unlimited fine.”

Owners of XL Bullies in England and Wales can apply for exemption on the UK Government website.

There is a fee of £92.40 per dog and a requirement to have third party public liability insurance for banned breeds.

As part of the exemption process, XL Bully owners will also have to ensure the dog is neutered, microchipped, muzzled and on a lead when in a public place, and kept in secure conditions to prevent its escape.

The dog must be kept at the same address as the registered keeper except for up to 30 days in 12 months, and the owner must report any change of address, or the death or export of the dog.

The RSPCA is part of the Dog Control Coalition which does not agree with the ban on XL Bullies.