Advocacy Library

for ending breed restrictions

Animal Ordinances
Breeds and Behavior
Visual Breed Identification
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Facts to Back Up Your Advocacy

Research, statements, whitepapers, and multimedia based in science and logic showing that animal ordinances and policies should be behavior based and breed-neutral.

Animal Ordinances

How to talk about what works and argue against what doesn’t

The Responsible Pet Ownership Model

A case study of Calgary’s animal ordinances

“The Responsible Pet Ownership Model is focused first on supporting and incentivizing responsible behavior in pet owners and second, discouraging problematic behavior.”

Download the pdf

Out of the Past: Updating Your Animal Control Ordinances

Cory A. Smith wrote this step by step guide on breed-neutral animal ordinances for Animal Sheltering Magazine in 2012. Years later, it’s proactive approach and focus on responsible pet ownership and accessible resources keep it relevant for anyone wanting to create a safe community for people and pets.

Read the article (pdf)

Additional Guidelines

Collection of effective animal ordinances from National Canine Research Council

Pets for Life

A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention (pdf) from the American Veterinary Medical Association

Down to a Science

“BSL suffers from the fundamental, flawed presumption that breed reliably predicts vicious propensity. It draws from retrospective review of anecdotal evidence based on questionable phenotypic and genotypic identifications (not double-blind, randomized trials).”

– Adam Karp

Download and read Karp’s paper

Case Study: the Financial Cost of BSL

Breed-specific legislation is costly. Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted on enforcing ineffective laws. Prince George’s County’s BSL has been in place since 1996. In 2001, it cost the county $560,000.

Read the case study (pdf)

Statements from organizations about BSL

Read statements from organizations and businesses on how breed-specific legislation is anti-science, damages the relationship between dogs and people, and doesn’t prove to keep communities safe.

You can share these statements with law and policymakers to show them how many reputable organizations do not endorse BSL.

View the statements

Listen to an episode of our podcast 

Further Reading

Established Epidemiological Measure Shows Why Breed Bans Fail to Reduce Dog Bite Injury (pdf) from the National Canine Research Council

Ineffective Canine Policies from the National Canine Research Council

We Can’t Fix Human Problems by Fixing Dogs

Outdated Thinking Is Going to Hurt Dogs in South Carolina

Here’s What We Learned in South Carolina (podcast)

Breeds and Behavior

Peer-reviewed research on why looks don’t equal behavior and dog bite hysteria is unfounded

Nicholas Criscuolo v. Grant County

“Regardless of whether someone inaccurately believes that a specific breed has a certain behavior or “dangerousness,” a dog with moderate or minor/trace amounts of that breed has the majority of its genome derived from breeds other than the breed in question. It is not rational or scientifically valid to assume that a dog can be defined as dangerous by virtue of having “any element” of a particular breed.” – Dr. Kristopher Irizarry  Download and read the full report

All Dogs Are Individuals Infographic

View the full infographic and see citations

Further Reading

What Kind of a Dog Is That? from the National Canine Research Council Interview with veterinary geneticist Jessica Hekman Does Breed Really Matter When Choosing a Pet Dog? (podcast) The Dog and Its Genome by Elaine Ostrander

Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog by Scott and Fuller

The Relevance of Breed in Selecting a Companion Dog by Janis Bradley

What Dogs Tell Us, the ABCs of DNA, National Geographic

Dr. Kristopher J. Irizarry, PhD

Dr. Victoria Voith PhD, DVM, DACVB

Dog Bite and Risk Prevention: The Role of Breed

This literature review from the American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Division examines scientific research and other data to asses whether breed-targeted laws and policies would be effective.

The peer-reviewed summary concludes that, “breed is a poor sole predictor of aggressiveness.”

Read the literature review on the AMVA website

Dog Bite Fatalities Are Extremely Rare

There were only 38 dog bite related fatalities in the U.S. in 2018 From the National Canine Research Council Sources and more information (pdf)

Further Reading

Potentially Preventable Husbandry Factors Co-Occur in Most Dog Bite Related Fatalities (pdf) from the National Canine Research Council

Summary and Analysis of Defaming Rover from the National Canine Research Council

Summary and Analysis: Dog Bites: Still a Problem? from National Canine Research Council

Visual Breed Identification

Why it’s unreliable, subjective, and doesn’t work

How Long Before We Discard Visual Breed Identification?

“The discrepancy between breed identifications based on opinion and DNA analysis, as well as concerns about the reliability of data collected based on media reports, draws into question the validity and enforcement of public and private policies pertaining to dog breeds.”

– Dr. Victoria Voith

Read summary and see further citations

Breed Specific or Looks Specific?

“The genetic program that results in a large thick skull, like that of a Labrador Retriever, is not the same genetic program that builds the brain.”

– Dr. Kristopher Irizarry

Download and read the white paper


Studies on the unreliability of visual breed i.d.

Inconsistent Identification of Pit Bull-Type Dogs by Shelter Staff

Is That Dog a Pit Bull?: A cross-country comparison of perceptions of shelter workers regarding breed identification 

Canine Identity Crisis: Genetic breed heritage testing of shelter dogs

Excluding My Dog Is Excluding Me

Help us end exclusionary breed restrictions in housing insurance.