Soon-to-be banned XL Bully dogs are already being kept at an Angus kennels earmarked as Scotland’s first sanctuary for the controversial breed.
But the parties involved in the Happas Canine Centre plans say they are doing everything “by the book” to get the facility operating legally.
Kennels owner Jeremy Barron and canine campaigner Kerryanne Shaw must apply to Angus Council for separate licences.
Those are not yet in place.
The pair claim they have endured a campaign of hate against both the kennels and proposals to save “beautiful, well-natured ” dogs from being destroyed.
“There has been a lot of support – but there has been a lot of trolling,” said Kerryanne.
New laws relating to XL Bullies, which have been blamed for a number of serious attack incidents, come into force on Feb 23.
But at least two XLs are already being homed in the Angus establishment.
Mr Barron said: “I have been decent throughout all of this hate campaign. If you try to take people on on social media it just antagonises them.
“We’ve got nothing to hide, we’re being genuine here.”
What is planned for the Angus kennels?
Happas, between Forfar and Dundee, was chosen by Bullies charity operator Kerryanne as the location for the sanctuary.
She will lease the premises from owner Mr Barron, who has operated there since 2015.
But it emerged last week that Mr Barron’s animal boarding licence ran out at the end of December.
The 51-year-old businessman’s renewal application still has to be considered by Angus Council.
And a re-homing licence application from Ms Shaw will not go before councillors until March 28 at the earliest.
However, the parties say they are doing everything by the book.
Mr Barron said: “We are trying to work with the council to keep everything above board.
“There has been a hold-up with the licence.
“I had the council out last week and don’t envisage any problems.”
Happas was under investigation over complaints about conditions there.
Mr Barron said the running of the sanctuary would be entirely Ms Shaw’s responsibility once it is up and running.
“She has been up here getting the kennels ready, she had people who will help here and they are doing all the changes they plan.”
He says he plans to simply let out the premises and step away from day-to-day running.
“I might use the cattery again, but I don’t think so.”
Meanwhile, Ms Shaw says the social media backlash has taken its toll on her mental health.
“The support (for the sanctuary) has been heart-warming,” she said.
Kerryanne exceeded a £20,000 crowdfunding target to set it up.
But she admitted to being affected by online abuse around the project.
“My mental health hasn’t been great because of all the stress,” she said.
On Monday, she was finalising a re-homing licence application for the Angus premises.
She confirmed two XL Bullies and an American Bulldog are currently being kept at Happas under Mr Barron’s control.
One is due to go to a new home imminently.
Her lease arrangement with Mr Barron means she has to apply for a re-homing licence, not a boarding licence.
She will keep XL Bullies under licence at Happas and re-home other – non-banned – breeds from there through her rescue charity.
“I cannot move up there without the licence,” she said.
“After February 23 you can no longer re-home the dogs, but I have until the end of June to take them through exemption,” she added.
“They have to stay with me for the rest of their lives.
“We are not breaking any laws.
“I don’t want to anger the council by moving up before I get the licence. Until we get that licence everything is kind of stuck at the moment.
“We have already made improvements to the kennels.
“When we do open up I’m more than happy for people to come to an open day.
“Locals will be able to see it and ask anything they have concerns about.”
The 38-year-old added: “I’m obviously very passionate about the fact we won’t be putting any dogs to sleep.
“They (XLs) are loving, beautiful, well-natured dogs.
“We are not going to turn our back on them.”