Breed-Specific Legislation in the U.S.

Breed-specific legislation (also known as BSL) is enacted by cities across the country. The purpose of these laws is to restrict “dangerous” dog breeds. But what makes a dog “dangerous” varies from community to community. Some cities target only one breed (usually pit bulls), while others have long lists of unwelcomed dogs. People are typically divided on this issue – some support these bans and others prefer judging the merits of each individual dog. Finding a happy medium can be difficult.

Commonly Banned or Restricted Dog Breeds

Some cities and towns ban dogs because their breed classification has a reputation for being aggressive and territorial. Some examples include:

  1. Pit Bulls
  2. Wolfdogs (hybrids of a domestic dog and a wolf)
  3. Rottweilers
  4. American Bulldogs
  5. Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  6. German Shepherds
  7. Mastiffs
  8. Doberman Pinschers

The so-called “dangerous” breeds may surprise you. For instance, akitas and chow chows (commonly featured in adorable viral videos) are sometimes considered to be dangerous.

Examples of Breed-Specific Legislation

Most breed-specific laws restrict ownership of certain dogs, but each city has its own guidelines. For instance, a dog may require a special permit in one town yet 50 miles away they might not qualify as a “dangerous” dog. Listed below are just five examples:

  • Park rules. In Clarkston, Georgia, pit bulls and rottweilers are banned from off-leash city parks
  • Mandatory insurance. In Hornell, New York, owners of pit bulls must have liability insurance of no less than $100,000.
  • Mandatory sterilization. In Hollister, California, pit bulls and chihuahuas owners have mandatory spaying and neutering laws.
  • Boarding restrictions. In Colby, Kansas, permits and licenses are denied to animal boarding facilities if they keep pit bulls.
  • Weight restrictions. In Fairfield, Iowa, “dangerous” dogs are dogs “weighing in excess of one hundred pounds”.

Is This Good or Bad: ?

There’s no denying that these laws in place with the intent to protect citizens. When children or the elderly are involved, dog attacks are sometimes lethal. Some breeds were once bred for dangerous activities. It’s worth noting that many animal organizations oppose these laws. For example, the ASPCA states that it is “not aware of credible evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer either for people or other companion animals.”

Do Your Research

Whether you own a pit bull or a chihuahua, be sure to research the code of ordinances in your area.