BSL Legal Action Fund

We are taking BSL head-on in a way that has never been done before – we’re taking local governments to court on behalf of dog owners.

You can help us prevent family pets from being forcibly taken from their homes by donating to our BSL Legal Action Fund.

Our approach

to ending breed-specific legislation

It is our position that breed-specific legislation violates the 5th and 14th amendments. These bans often include a variety of dogs, not just those perceived to be “pit bulls.” It is also a way for governments to covertly discriminate against marginalized individuals.

We think BSL is the cruelest law pet owners can be subjected to. To end these laws and expose their discriminatory nature, we have hired a national law firm well-versed in constitutional law. We work with lawyers who have a thorough understanding of canine science.

Our goal is to eradicate breed-specific legislation in the United States and we won’t stop until we do.

Current Court Cases

Williston, North Dakota

Williston’s “pit bull” dog ban has been in effect since 1987. In that time, it has been arbitrarily enforced based on animal control officers’ subjective opinion of what constitutes a “pit bull.” Fines and charges vary and seem to impact underserved communities more negatively. This is consistent with what we know of breed-specific legislation – it is a way for officials to enact discrimination against citizens..

Latest Update

Lawsuit filed

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Council Bluffs’ “pit bull” dog ban was established in 2004. Since then, it has violated the constitutional rights of dog owners. We’re helping local dog owners take the city to court, because no one should have to choose between their family member and their home.

Latest Update

Lawsuit filed

Keota, Iowa

Williston’s “pit bull” dog ban has been in effect since 1987. In that time, it has been arbitrarily enforced based on animal control officers’ subjective opinion of what constitutes a “pit bull.” Fines and charges vary and seem to impact underserved communities more negatively. This is consistent with what we know of breed-specific legislation – it is a way for officials to enact discrimination against citizens..

Latest Update

We requested that the City of Keota disclose the data set used in their cited research. They have failed to present this data.

Current Investigations

Little Rock, Arkansas

We made a FOIA request for copies of breed-specific related citations. Our staff is currently going through those. We will make any additional requests as necessary.

Most Recent Win

Sioux City, Iowa

We invested $300k in our first groundbreaking lawsuit in Sioux City, Iowa, where, until November 25, 2019, it was legal for the government to take your pet away simply because of what your dog looks like. 

The ban became law in 2006. For over a decade, countless pet dogs have been seized from their homes and destroyed. Not because of behavior, just because Sioux City said the dogs were “pit bulls.”

In 2016, three women filed suit in federal district court against the City, the city manager, and the Sioux City Animal Adoption & Rescue Center operator. Much of the testimony for the defense, especially the testimony by Cindy Rarrat, reveals the racism and classism behind this legislation.

The lawsuit forced the city to take dog owners and advocates seriously. One city council member even cited the lawsuit as his reason for voting to repeal the ban. City officials knew that breed-specific legislation wouldn’t hold up in court, so they voted to repeal before it ever came to that.

Listen to us discuss our history fighting discrimination

Our first case

Dias v Denver in 2007/8

The first BSL case we co-funded was Dias v Denver in 2007/8.  The case ended when the dog owners accepted a settlement but not before the federal district court hinted in its opinion that BSL violates the 5th and 14th amendments. 

Fighting ableism

James Sak and Peggy Leifer vs city of Aurelia, Iowa

In 2011, the city of Aurelia took away James Sak’s service dog, Snickers. Service dogs are considered medical equipment under the law. The city did removed Snickers without regard to Sak’s well-being and safety as a person with disabilities. In an emergency injunction filed by Sak, Judge Mark W. Bennett found that the city was discriminating against Sak and that Sak faced irreparable harm without his dog.

 

a snapshot of our legal efforts

Criscuolo v. City of Moses Lake
Result: Repeal and payment of $14k in fees/costs

Newman v. City of Payette and Fruitland
Result: repeal and some financial payment

Douglas v. County of Payette
Result: repeal and payment

Denton v. City of Yakima
Result: repeal and financial payment

Donate today!

100% of your donation will go toward ending exclusionary breed restrictions, which often lead to discrimination against marginalized communities.