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Information on Bully Breeds

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What is BSL?

What is BSL Legislation?

What is BSL?


BSL is an ethical failure. BSL is a public safety failure.


Description:Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a law that bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as “dangerous” breeds or types of dogs.

**It is a common misconception that BSL refers only to breed bans. BSL is seen in two forms: bans and restrictions.**

A breed ban usually requires that all dogs of a certain appearance (“targeted breed”) be removed from the municipality wherein the ban has been implemented. After the effective date of the ban, dogs in the municipality that are identified as targeted breeds are usually subject to being killed by animal control, though in some cases, such dogs may be saved if relocation is an option. Breed bans may have grandfather clauses that allow dogs of targeted breeds to stay in the ban area (provided they are registered with the municipality by a certain date, and likely subject to various breed-specific restrictions).


Breed-specific restrictions may require an owner of a targeted breed do any of the following or more, depending on how the law is written:

  • Muzzle the dog in public
  • Spay or neuter the dog
  • Contain the dog in a kennel with specific requirements (6′ chain link walls, lid, concrete floors, etc.)
  • Keep the dog on a leash of specific length or material
  • Purchase liability insurance of a certain amount
  • Place “vicious dog” signs on the outside of the residence where the dog lives
  • Make the dog wear a “vicious dog” tag or other identifying marker

Breed-specific legislation applies only to dogs of a certain appearance, not to any and all dogs. It does not take into account how the owner has raised, trained, or managed the dog. It does not take into account the dog’s actual behavior.

“Breed specific” is something of a misnomer. Some breed specific laws don’t target specific breeds, but rather, a loosely defined class of dogs (e.g. “pit bull” or “shepherd”). Almost all BSL also includes a “substantially similar” clause: “or any dog with an appearance or physical characteristics that are substantially similar to the aforementioned breeds.” In other words, targeted dogs are often subject to BSL not because they are in fact a specific breed, but because they simply look similar to a particular breed or have a general physical appearance that someone might consider “targeted breed-like.”


BSL is sometimes known by another acronym: BDL, or breed discriminatory law.

What the Human Society says about BSL

Breed Specific Legislation
Dealing with Reckless Owners and Dangerous Dogs in Your Community

Dogs permitted by their owners to run loose, and dogs who attack people or other animals, are real and often serious problems in communities across the country—but how to best address dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs can be a confusing and touchy issue.

“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds completely in the hopes of reducing dog attacks. Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws. However, the problem of dangerous dogs will not be remedied by the “quick fix” of breed-specific laws—or, as they should truly be called, breed-discriminatory laws.

It is worth noting that in some areas, regulated breeds include not just American Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, English Bull Terriers and Rottweilers, but also a variety of other dogs, including American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, or any mix of these breeds—and dogs who simply resemble these breeds.

On the bright side, many states (including New York, Texas and Illinois) favor laws that identify, track and regulate dangerous dogs individually, regardless of breed, and prohibit BSL.

Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?

There is no evidence that breed-specific laws—which are costly and difficult to enforce—make communities safer for people or companion animals. For example, Prince George’s County, MD, spends more than $250,000 annually to enforce its ban on Pit Bulls. In 2003, a study conducted by the county on the ban’s effectiveness noted that “public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],” and that “there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).”


Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided not to support BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs). The CDC also noted the likelihood that as certain breeds are regulated, those who exploit dogs by making them aggressive will replace them with other, unregulated breeds.

What’s Wrong with Breed-Specific Laws?

BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

  • Dogs go into hiding
    Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.

    Good owners and dogs are punished
    BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.

    They impart a false sense of security
    Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating spaying and neutering and laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed.
  • They may actually encourage ownership by irresponsible people
    If you outlaw a breed, then outlaws are attracted to that breed. Unfortunately some people take advantage of the “outlaw” status of their breed of choice to bolster their own self image as living outside of the rules of mainstream society. Ironically, the rise of Pit Bull ownership among gang members and others in the late 1980’s coincided with the first round of breed-specific legislation.
What’s the Alternative to Breed-Specific Laws?

In the aforementioned study, the CDC noted that many other factors beyond breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression—things such as heredity, sex, early experience, reproductive status, socialization and training. These last two concerns are well-founded, given that:


  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered:
  • 78 percent were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding.
  • 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners—these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, the ASPCA seeks effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals.

For help in drafting animal control laws, contact the ASPCA’s Government Relations department at [email protected].

What the American Humane Association says about BSL

Breed-Specific Legislation


What Is Breed-Specific Legislation?


Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the banning or restriction of specific breeds of dogs considered “dangerous” breeds, such as pit bull breeds, Rottweilers and German shepherds. Many states, counties and municipal governments are turning to legislation that targets specific breeds as an answer to dog attacks.


BSL Does Not Work

While supporters of BSL argue that the only way to be safe from dog bites is to eradicate “dangerous breeds” from the community, there is little evidence that supports BSL as an effective means of reducing dog bites and dog attacks. On the contrary, studies have shown that it is not the breeds themselves that are dangerous, but unfavorable situations that are creating dangerous dogs. Often, the very research that some cite as “support” for BSL actually argues for alternative, more effective means.  Examples include:

Enforcement of BSL

Breed Identification

According to the American Pet Products Association, out of 73 million pet dogs, 31 million are classified by their owners as “mutts”. While almost all BSL refers to “pit bulls,” many breeds of dogs have the facial and body characteristics of a “pit bull,” but are actually not pit bulls at all, including Labrador retrievers, bulldogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, mastiffs and many others.


Enforcing breed-specific legislation can be burdensome and costly. BSL is enforced by animal control agencies on tight budgets, expanding their duties without necessarily expanding their budget. Additionally, many rural areas do not have funding to establish and effectively run an animal control division. Costs can include additional animal control staff to enforce the law, the kenneling of dogs awaiting breed determination and/or appeal, court time and costs, expert testimony and veterinary care. As an example, one county in Maryland spent more than $560,000 maintaining pit bulls (not including payroll, cross-agency costs and utilities), while fees generated only $35,000. As a result of such costs, many cities have considered repealing or have repealed breed-specific legislation. In the Maryland case, the task force found that while the county spends more than a quarter-million dollars each year to enforce the ban, “public safety has not improved as a result [of the ban]”.

Alternatives to BSL

Legislation targeting specific breeds simply does not work because dog attacks result from multiple factors, not just a simple breakdown of breed culpability. Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association and The National Canine Research Council, as well as independent researchers, all agree that BSL is not productive. They do, however, identify four key points that could reduce the number of dog attacks:


1. Education

Children are statistically the most at risk for dog bites. Unsupervised newborns were 370 times more likely than an adult to be killed by a dog. Eighty-two percent of dog bites treated in emergency rooms involved children under 15 years old. Adult supervision plays a key role in prevention. Children who understand how to act around dogs, how to play with dogs, when to leave dogs alone and how to properly meet a dog are much less likely to be bitten. To address this need, American Humane has created , a dog-bite prevention program specifically for children ages 4 to 7. By educating children at home and in school, we can drastically reduce the instances of dog bites.

2. Enforcement

Communities can greatly reduce the number of dog bites by enacting stronger animal control laws and by providing better resources for enforcing existing laws. Examples include leash, animal-at-large and licensing laws, as well as mandatory spay/neuter laws for shelters. Additional measures include increasing and enforcing penalties for violations, targeting chronically irresponsible owners, imposing serious penalties for bites that occur in the context of another infraction (particularly a violation of leash laws) and prohibiting chaining or tethering for excessive periods of time. Chaining and/or neglect results in anxious, lonely, bored, under-stimulated, untrained, unsocialized, isolated dogs that are much more likely to react aggressively because of their fear.


However, enacting more laws and strengthening laws are not the only answers. Animal control facilities are already underfunded and understaffed, which makes enforcement of existing laws difficult. It is essential that legislators recognize the value of and need for animal control facilities and officers, and provide them with increased financial support and staffing to enforce these laws.

American Humane supports the enactment and enforcement of dangerous-dog laws that are breed neutral and identify dangerous dogs based on actions -- not on breed. Good dangerous-dog laws involve a hearing after a dog has bitten or threatened a person or another animal. If the dog is found to be dangerous, the dog’s owner can be required to meet a variety of requirements, such as having the dog neutered, muzzled at all times when off the owner’s property, always on a leash, confined to the owner’s yard, microchipped, etc.


3. Spaying and neutering

Unneutered male dogs are more than 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs, while female dogs in heat or nursing are much more dangerous than spayed females. The behavior of intact animals can be unpredictable. Talk to your veterinarian to schedule an appointment, or contact your local humane organization or animal shelter for information on low-cost spay/neuter assistance. If your community does not provide low-cost services, encourage your legislator, local animal shelter or veterinarian to consider the option as a public-health service.  .

4. Better bite reporting

Researchers agree that better statistics on dog bites could greatly improve our ability to firmly identify the factors that should be the primary focus for improving public safety. Research to date is primarily based on incomplete police and hospital records, as well as newspaper articles.  Incomplete data includes failure to record the location of bites, age and sex of the dog, age and sex of the victim, circumstances surrounding the bites and accurate breed identification.


Additional Suggestions


Dogs left on their own may feel uncertain and defensive, or even overly confident -- and this poses risks to the dog, as well as to other people and dogs. The vast majority of dogs involved in attacks are off-leash and unsupervised. Additionally, unsupervised children may innocently wander too close to a dangerous situation. Eighty-eight percent of fatal dog attacks among 2-year-olds occurred when the child was left unsupervised. Supervision of children, especially around dogs, is one way to help ensure they are safe.

Train and socialize your dog:

Be sure your dog interacts with and has good manners around all members of the family, the public and other animals. Basic training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog, and socialization is the key to a well-adjusted adult dog. It is essential that puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old be exposed to a variety of people, places, dogs and other animals. As dogs age, do your best to continue their exposure to these things to ensure that they are well socialized throughout their lives.

Restrain your dog:

Twenty-four percent of fatal dog attacks involved loose dogs that were off their owner’s property. Dogs that are allowed to roam loose outside the yard may perceive the entire neighborhood as their “territory” and may defend it aggressively. By obeying leash laws and taking care to properly fence your yard, you will not only be respecting the laws in your community, but you will also be keeping your dog safe from cars, other dogs and unforeseen dangers.

Unchain your dog:

Chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. Tethering or chaining dogs increases their stress, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression. Fencing is the better solution.

More Information on BSL and why it DOESN'T Work

Pit Bull Bans: The State of Breed–Specific Legislation

2012 in By Dana M. Campbell

When animal control officers in Kansas City, Kansas, seized Mike and Amy Johnson’s dog Niko in 2007 for violating the city’s ban against harboring pit bulls, it took eight mont...
hs of legal wrangling and a DNA test on Niko before the city agreed with what the Johnsons and their paperwork had been saying all along—that Niko was a boxer mix. During that time Niko waited in an animal control kennel, separated from his family, losing weight and fur, and picking up a cough. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to free from prison hundreds of wrongly convicted persons, and the case of Niko the dog. The case of the wrongly accused Niko and his eight–month imprisonment for being judged as something he was not provides a good illustration of many of the controversies currently surrounding the topic of “breed” bans, also know as “pit bull bans” or “breed–specific legislation” (BSL).

What Problems Prompted BSL?
Dealing with dangerous dogs is a problem that has perplexed communities for ages, leading some of them to resort to passing laws banning certain breeds perceived as especially prone to dangerous behavior, usually after a well–publicized attack on a human. In fact, a spokesman for the KCK Kennels where Niko was held said the ban is there to protect people, adding that a pit bull had attacked and killed an elderly woman about a year before Niko was seized. These efforts to purge certain breeds are perhaps the easiest ways to attempt to reduce the probability of an attack by simply reducing the mere presence of certain types of dogs in a community. Other communities place restrictions on the owners of certain breeds without completely banning the breeds.

The American Kennel Club (AKC), the nation’s largest dog–breed registry, does not recognize a “pit bull” breed per se. The AKC–recognized breeds most commonly included within current BSL are Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Also frequently included are Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Mastiffs, and Presa Canarios. But the focus of public and government concern has not always been pit bulls; in the 1970s the concern was over German Shepherds, and in the 1980s, Doberman Pinschers.

Who Has Passed BSL?
Hundreds of municipalities of all sizes and geographic locations throughout the country have adopted BSL. (One of the most comprehensive, up–to–date lists of BSL jurisdictions can be found at www.understand–a– Still other towns are repealing existing bans, such as Edwardsville, Kansas, which removed its pit bull ban after the nearby Niko case ended.

In 2009 new statewide BSL bills were introduced in Hawaii, Montana, and Oregon, where there are two BSL bills pending. One would ban “pit bulls” from Oregon unless a person has obtained a permit within 90 days of the bill’s passage; the other would require minimum liability insurance coverage of $1 million for pit bull owners. Although other jurisdictions, as well as insurance companies, have also implemented provisions requiring minimum liability insurance coverage for owners of certain breeds, Oregon’s bill may be the first to cross the million–dollar threshold if it passes. Because some dog owners will be unable to obtain such insurance owing to the cost or the nature of their dog, these requirements act as an indirect restriction on ownership of certain breeds.

Interestingly, 12 states have passed laws prohibiting the passage of BSL by local governments: Florida and Pennsylvania (although bills are currently pending to repeal this prohibition in both states), California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Like the other 11 states, California has ruled that no specific dog breed mix shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious as a matter of breed, but it does allow BSL related to mandatory spay/neuter programs, meaning it requires dogs of certain breeds to be “fixed.” The city of Denver has perhaps the most tortured history with BSL. Denver passed BSL in 1989, but the Colorado State Legislature outlawed BSL in 2004. Denver later reinstated BSL after the city challenged the state’s BSL prohibition, and a judge ruled that Denver’s BSL could be allowed to stand as a home rule exception.

Just two weeks before President George W. Bush left office, the U.S. Army issued a memo detailing pet policy changes for privatized housing on military installations; the memo bans American or English Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, and wolf hybrids as well as a host of other pets and exotic animals including reptiles, rats, hedgehogs, ferrets, and farm animals. The policy, which went into effect immediately, grandfathers in existing pets and contains a clause allowing for certain exceptions but lists no criteria for the exceptions. Some military families have lamented online and in the media that the nature of military service requires frequent moves from base to base, making the grandfather clause nearly meaningless. The Obama administration has promised to look into the military’s breed ban but has not yet rendered an opinion on whether it would be allowed to stand.

BSL in the Courts
Court cases challenging BSL have focused on constitutional concerns such as substantive due process, equal protection, and vagueness. Most BSL will survive the minimum scrutiny analysis allowed by the due process clauses of the Constitution’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments because there is no fundamental right at issue. This analysis requires that the law being challenged must be rationally related to a legitimate government goal or purpose. Because state and local jurisdictions enjoy broad police powers, including protecting the public’s safety and welfare, courts have not had trouble finding that BSL is rationally related to the goal of protecting the public from allegedly dangerous breeds.

Challenges based on equal protection arguments are similarly difficult to sustain. Here courts are looking at whether there is a rational purpose for treating pit bull breeds differently from other dog breeds. Dog owners have attacked the rational purpose requirement by arguing either that BSL is over–inclusive, because it bans all dogs of a breed when only certain individuals within the breed have proven to be vicious, or under–inclusive, because many types of dogs have injured people and the BSL fails to include those other breeds. However, again under minimum scrutiny review, BSL will survive as long as the government can establish that the BSL is rationally related to its purpose, even if the law is found to be over–inclusive or under–inclusive.

Claims that BSL is unconstitutionally vague have brought dog owners mixed success. Procedural due process requires that laws provide the public with sufficient notice of the activity or conduct being regulated or banned. Here owners of pit bulls or other banned breeds argue that the breed ban laws do not adequately define just what is a “pit bull” (or other banned breed) for purposes of the ban. Another argument is that the laws are too vague to help the dog–owning public or the BSL enforcement agency—such as animal control or police—to be able to identify whether a dog falls under the BSL if the dog was adopted with an unknown origin or is a mixed breed. In the Niko case it took a DNA test to resolve this issue, after which the charges based on the BSL were dropped.

Enforcement Issues
Enforcement of BSL naturally leads to the question: Who determines whether a dog is one of the banned or regulated breeds, and what is the procedure for that determination? Surprisingly, in places such as North Salt Lake, Utah, the city manager has sole authority to make that call. In other places it is the mayor or animal control officers. No special training in breed identification is required. Some jurisdictions have passed their BSL legislation without any input from a veterinarian, presumably the type of expert most capable of identifying dog breeds. Attorney Ledy VanKavage has spent the last decade studying BSL and is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on the subject. She is now general counsel for Best Friends Animal Society after working for years as the senior director of legislation and legal training for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). She calls BSL “breed discrimination laws” and asserts that with the advance of DNA analysis for dogs becoming more available, the days of mere “canine profiling” and arbitrary enforcement are numbered. VanKavage believes that because the government has the burden of proving that a dog is one of the breeds banned or regulated by BSL, cities will have to seriously weigh whether they should pony up the high cost of DNA tests or simply give up trying to enforce BSL.

Is BSL Effective?
Extensive studies of the effectiveness of BSL in reducing the number of persons harmed by dog attacks were done in Spain and Great Britain. Both studies concluded that their “dangerous animals acts,” which included pit bull bans, had no effect at all on stopping dog attacks. The Spanish study further found that the breeds most responsible for bites—both before and after the breed bans—were those breeds not covered by it, primarily German Shepherds and mixed breeds.

One of the few known instances in which a breed ban’s effectiveness was examined and reported on in the United States occurred in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where a task force was formed in 2003 to look at the effectiveness of its pit bull ban. The task force concluded that the public’s safety had not improved as a result of the ban, despite the fact that the county had spent more than $250,000 per year to round up and destroy banned dogs. Finding that other, non–breed–specific laws already on the books covered vicious animal, nuisance, leash, and other public health and safety concerns, the task force recommended repealing the ban.

In a different study looking at dog bite data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Veterinary Medical Association together produced a report titled “Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the US between 1979 and 1998,” which appeared in the September 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Among its findings, the study reported that during this 20–year period, more than 25 breeds of dogs were involved in 238 human fatalities. Pit bull–type dogs caused 66 of the fatalities, which averages out to just over three fatal attacks per year, and Rottweilers were cited as causing 39 of the fatalities. The rest were caused by other purebreds and mixed breeds. At the time the report was released, Dr. Gail C. Golab, one of the study’s co–authors, was quoted as saying, “[s]ince 1975, dogs belonging to more than 30 breeds—including Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and a Yorkshire Terrier—have been responsible for fatal attacks on people.”

The authors noted that the data in the report cannot be used to infer any breed–specific risk for dog bite fatalities, such as for pit bull–type dogs or Rottweilers, because to obtain such risk information it would be necessary to know the total numbers of each breed currently residing in the United States, and that information is unavailable.

A 2008 report on media bias by the National Canine Research Council (available on their website at compared the type of media coverage given for dog attacks that occurred during a four–day period in August 2007 with intriguing results:

On day one, a Labrador mix attacked an elderly man, sending him to the hospital. News stories of his attack appeared in one article in the local paper.

On day two, a mixed–breed dog fatally injured a child. The local paper ran two stories.

On day three, a mixed–breed dog attacked a child, sending him to the hospital. One article ran in the local paper.

On day four, two pit bulls that broke off their chains attacked a woman trying to protect her small dog. She was hospitalized. Her dog was uninjured. This attack was reported in more than 230 articles in national and international newspapers and on the major cable news networks.

It is not a stretch to see how such news coverage could influence calls for breed bans from the frightened public and its legislators.

Options Beyond BSL
The National Canine Research Council has identified the most common factors found in fatal dog attacks occurring in 2006:

97 percent of the dogs involved were not spayed or neutered.

84 percent of the attacks involved owners who had abused or neglected their dogs, failed to contain their dogs, or failed to properly chain their dogs.

78 percent of the dogs were not kept as pets but as guard, breeding, or yard dogs.

Stephan Otto, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, notes that “if a person keeps a dangerous dog to guard their drugs or property or for fighting purposes, they’ll just switch to a different breed and train that dog to be dangerous to get around a breed ban. The BSL accomplishes nothing in those cases.”

VanKavage points to all of the above factors as reasons for communities to focus on “reckless owners” rather than singling out specific breeds to be regulated, and she recommends improving dangerous dog laws generally, addressing the above factors without singling out any breeds. She cites St. Paul, Minnesota, and Tacoma, Washington, as both having passed model laws in 2007 that target troublesome pet owners.

The ASPCA has proposed a list of solutions for inclusion in breed–neutral laws that hold reckless dog owners accountable for their aggressive animals:

Enhanced enforcement of dog license laws, with adequate fees to augment animal control budgets and surcharges on ownership of unaltered dogs to help fund low–cost pet- sterilization programs. High–penalty fees should be imposed on those who fail to license a dog.
Enhanced enforcement of leash/dog–at–large laws, with adequate penalties to supplement animal control funding and to ensure the law is taken seriously.
Dangerous dog laws that are breed neutral and focus on the behavior of the individual dog, with mandated sterilization and microchipping of dogs deemed dangerous and options for mandating muzzling, confinement, adult supervision, training, owner education, and a hearings process with gradually increasing penalties, including euthanasia, in aggravated circumstances such as when a dog causes unjustified injury or simply cannot be controlled. (“Unjustified” typically is taken to mean the dog was not being harmed or provoked by anyone when the attack occurred.)
Laws that hold dog owners financially accountable for failure to adhere to animal control laws, and also hold them civilly and criminally liable for unjustified injuries or damage caused by their dogs.
Laws that prohibit chaining or tethering, coupled with enhanced enforcement of animal cruelty and fighting laws. Studies have shown that chained dogs are an attractive nuisance to children and others who approach them.
Laws that mandate the sterilization of shelter animals and make low–cost sterilization services widely available.
Recently, VanKavage revealed that Best Friends Animal Society has developed an economic analysis tool (view it at their website, that would help cities determine the potential fiscal impact of enforcing BSL versus having a good non–breed–specific dangerous dog law in place. Armed with this tool, cities can now consider cost as one additional factor to weigh before deciding to enact BSL.

National animal organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Society of the United States, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Best Friends Animal Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Kennel Club, and the National Animal Control Association all oppose BSL. Otto sums up their position this way: “If the goal is dog–bite prevention, then dogs should be treated as individuals under effective dangerous dog laws and not as part of a breed painted with certain traits that may not be applicable to each dog. By doing so, owners of well–trained, gentle dogs are not punished by a breed ban, while dangerous dogs of all breeds are regulated and may have their day in court to be proven dangerous.”

As an example, consider the 2007 Michael Vick dogfighting case in Virginia, in which 50 of the former pro football player’s fighting dogs were seized and about to be euthanized according to conventional wisdom that dogs trained to fight to the death are too dangerous to humans and other animals and cannot be retrained. However, in an unprecedented move, the court agreed with amicus briefs filed by animal welfare groups and appointed a special master, animal law professor Rebecca Huss, as a guardian for the dogs to oversee temperament evaluations to be done on each dog by a team of behaviorists. As a result, only one dog was destroyed owing to temperament; the other 49 were saved and shipped to rescue groups, where they were rehabilitated and are now enjoying media attention as service dogs and beloved companions. Time will tell whether this unexpected outcome successfully turns on its head the argument that fighting dogs or certain breeds of dogs are inherently dangerous, untrainable, hopeless.

The number of places passing breed bans and prohibiting breed bans continues to fluctuate widely. Perhaps the most accurate way to sum up the state of BSL in the United States today is to say the laws are controversial, generating both howls of protest and vehement support wherever they have been considered.

Dana M. Campbell has a solo practice focusing on animal law and employment rights, provides legal work for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and teaches animal law as an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School. She may be reached at [email protected].



Breed-specific legislation (BSL), or legislation or ordinances that single out specific breeds of dog for banning or strictures, is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th amendment of the constitution (commonly referred to as citizens’ civil liberties), particularly the equal protection and due process clauses. The 14th amendment states:

No State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


The Equal Protection Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."[1] The Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause applies only to state governments, but the requirement of equal protection has been read to apply to the federal government as a component of Fifth Amendment due process.

More concretely, the Equal Protection Clause, along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, marked a great shift in American constitutionalism. Before the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Bill of Rights protected individual rights only from invasion by the federal government. After the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted, the Constitution also protected rights from abridgment by state leaders and governments, even including some rights that arguably were not protected from abridgment by the federal government. In the wake of the Fourteenth Amendment, the states could not, among other things, deprive people of the equal protection of the laws. What exactly such a requirement means has been the subject of much debate, and the story of the Equal Protection Clause is the gradual explication of its meaning.

Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.

Due process has also been frequently interpreted as limiting laws and legal proceedings (see substantive due process), so that judges - instead of legislators - may define and guarantee fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. This interpretation has proven controversial, and is analogous to the concepts of natural justice, and procedural justice used in various other jurisdictions. This interpretation of due process is sometimes expressed as a command that the government must not be unfair to the people or abuse them physically.

Due process is not used in contemporary English law, though two similar concepts are natural justice (which generally applies only to decisions of administrative agencies and some types of private bodies like trade unions) and the British constitutional concept of the rule of law as articulated by A. V. Dicey and others.[1] However, neither concept lines up perfectly with the American theory of due process, which, as explained below, presently contains many implied rights not found in the ancient or modern concepts of due process in England.[2]

Due process developed from clause 39 of the Magna Carta in England.[citation needed] When English and American law gradually diverged, due process was not upheld in England, but did become incorporated in the Constitution of the United States.


Our dogs are our property and they cannot be taken away from us legally unless it can be proven that they constitute a danger to the general public.

Bully breeds and Rottweilers, breeds most often singled out for breed-specific legislation (BSL), have not been proven to be inherently any more dangerous than any other breeds of dog despite what the media would have you believe. Indeed, bully breeds — American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers — score higher than Golden Retrievers on their temperament tests (according to the American Temperament Test Society’s Dec. 2006 statistics). Because it has not been scientifically proven that any one breed is more dangerous than another, BSL infringes on citizens’ equal protection rights. The equal protection clause of the 14th amendment states that certain similarly-circumstanced individuals cannot be deprived of their property, in this case dogs, while other similarly-circumstanced individuals are not unless it can be demonstrated that there is a rational basis, like public safety, for doing so. Because it has not been proven that bully breeds or Rottweilers are any more inherently dangerous than other breeds, banning them would not make the public safer and it would therefore be a violation of the equal protection clause to deprive bully or Rottweiler owners of their dogs.


The so-called “rational” basis test as it relates to BSL is the lowest form of scrutiny; it is an argument made by lawyers who are paid by states and municipalities to skirt individuals’ constitutional rights. They must necessarily dilute citizens’ 14th amendment property rights in order to make their BSL “legal” because those 14th amendment rights are straightforward and fundamental and therefore hard to negate without some abstract argument which supposes a rational cause.

Our founding fathers would have found the state’s confiscation of property on such flimsy merits abhorrent. Indeed, we should all find such dilute evidence used to negate our 14th amendment equal protection and due process rights abhorrent, especially considering that BSL doesn’t even keep the public safer.

Further, because it is at this time impossible to definitively prove breed heredity, BSL also infringes on citizens’ due process rights. Every citizen has a right under the due process clause to attempt to affect the outcome of a municipal or state-imposed deprivation of property (in this case, citizens’ dogs). When BSL is imposed and the owner is penalized yet it cannot be determined that the dog is indeed the banned breed in question, the dog owner’s due process rights are infringed upon.

In the case of BSL you can snow the court (and the people apparently) and tell them that this is a rational application of a law which is in the state’s, and therefore the public’s, best interest, but even with all their legal wrangling the “rational” basis test is illegitimate since one state’s “rationality” is another’s lunacy. Again, such minimal scrutiny applied to individuals’ constitutional rights will always negate the individual’s rights in the interest of the state’s. That’s why in terms of BSL the “rational” basis test is a smoke screen, opaque to the public, which supposedly legitimizes the state’s or municipality’s “right” to confiscate citizens’ property, at the same time usurping citizens’ equal protection and due process rights.


Breed ban proponents and dog owners alike would do well to know these rights and to have a better understanding of why BSL is an infringement of them.


More information you can go to this site below, it has alot of informative information



This is what Denver,CO does to your family pets because of their BSL Legislation, this is the TRUE ugliness of BSL. Look at the pup at the top! An OUTRAGE to say the least.  City records show that between 2005 and 2006, , leading to the large pile-ups of dead dogs depicted here, and 3,487 pit bull carcasses  have been carted away  from the shelter since the ban was enacted.

This is one of the reason we fight BSL Chino was killed because of being a Pit Bull and no other reason.

Go to this website and sign the petition for Chino And Ivy - These dogs were shot by police

Because shooting a non threatening pit is no longer acceptible.Family pets Chino and Ivy lost their life and got shot for just being Pits.


About New Hope Pit Rescue

"We fight so they don't have to.We are their voice as they cannot speak.We not only offer new hope to pits who otherwise would be put down,but educate the public,its the owners and the way they train there dogs that make them dangerous thus bad owners bad dogs.The education of the public is paramount without that we will never change there mind.The fight against BSL will not end until we educate the ignorant."

 There are MANY causes to sign, but if you don't want this to happen to your family pet, then we MUST BE THE VOICE TO THESE ANIMALS.

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