What is Breed-Specific Legislation?

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a law or ordinance that regulates or completely bans the keeping of dogs of or presumed to be specific breeds, dogs presumed to be specific breeds and/or dogs which are or presumed to be mixes of one or more of those breeds

Breed-specific legislation is not about dogs at all. It is discrimination against people. Sometimes this discrimination is against the houseless, sometimes people of lesser means, sometimes it’s about ableism, denying people with disabilities access, and other times it’s about racial profiling and stereotypes.

Breed Specific Legislation Can Include:

  • Mandatory spay-neuter
  • Mandatory muzzling
  • Liability insurance requirements
  • Special licensing and additional fees
  • Mandatory microchipping or tattoos owner/walker age requirements
  • Property posting requirements
  • Confinement and leash requirements
  • Breed specific pet limits sale or transfer notification requirements
  • Restrictions on access to certain public spaces with the dog [e.g.: public parks, school grounds]
  • Required town-issued items [e.g.: fluorescent collar; vest]
  • Training requirements
  • Requirement that photos of the dog and/or owner be kept on town file

Our education leaflet pdf includes:

 

  • Information on what BSL is and how it affects dogs and people.
  • Research about why it is ineffective and difficult to enforce.
  • A long list of organizations that do not support breed-specific legislation.
  • A myth-busting factsheet
  • … and much more

BSL violates the 5th and 14th amendments:

Whether we like it or not, pets are considered property. Property cannot be seized without due process. Taking a person’s pet away without fair enforcement procedures is a violation of a dog owner’s civil rights.

Read more about how we’re proving that BSL is unconstitutional.

What the experts say:

“BSL suffers from the fundamental, flawed presumption that breed reliably predicts vicious propensity. It draws from a retrospective review of anecdotal evidence based on questionable phenotypic and genotypic identifications (not double-blind, randomized trials that follow breed confirmed dogs till the triggering event, while controlling for confounding variables).”

– Adam Karp, Down to a Science:  Combating Breed Discriminatory Litigation with Frye, Daubert, and Rule 702

Download and read Karp’s paper

“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 in his report for Nicholas Criscuolo v. Grant County.

Download and read the full report.

RSPCA’s Breed-Specific Legislation Report  


This report notes that:

  • “There is widespread criticism of a breed specific approach for protecting public safety.”
  • “It has not reduced dog bites as it was designed to do l breed is not an appropriate criterion on which to assess a dog’s risk to people; aggression is a complex behaviour.”
  • “The process of handling dogs under the law is compromising welfare.”
  • “It is requiring welfare charities and police to put to sleep dogs based on their appearance, not temperament.”

Dog Bites Are Decreasing Around the Country

From the National Canine Research Council. Sources and more information.

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