What Is BSL

Breed specific legislation (BSL), also referred to as breed discriminatory legislation (BDL), is a law or ordinance that prohibits or restricts the keeping of dogs of specific breeds, dogs presumed to be specific breeds, mixes of specific breeds, and/or dogs presumed to be mixes of one or more of those breeds. The most drastic form of BSL is a complete ban.

Breed Specific Legislation Can Also 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

Get a Snapshot of Breed Specific Legislation Across the United States

Our interactive BSL map shows you the history of discriminatory legislation across the country. Learn where it’s implemented and where’s been repealed or rejected.

Organizations that Do Not Endorse BSL

It’s not only animal welfare organizations who denounce breed specific legislation; governmental organizations, insurance companies, and even the American Bar Association do not endorse it.

Breeds Commonly Targeted by BSL

“Pit bull” dogs and their owners aren’t the only ones facing discrimination. German shepherds, shar-peis, huskies, among many others are all often subject to regulations and restrictions other dogs aren’t.

BSL Talking Points

Learn how to effectively communicate about the negative impact of BSL with these talking points, sample letter, and suggested sources for further information.

Research Roundup

Officials most often use visual breed identification to determine which dogs fall under BSL. This is problematic because, as this research roundup shows, visual identification is highly inaccurate.

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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