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By regulating the behavior, state and local officials can be most effective in using their resources to keep their communities safe from truly "dangerous dogs," without infringing on the freedoms of dog owners whose animals are singled out solely because of an American Kennel Club designation. 54 Id. 25 This type of legislation does not make concessions for those members of the breed who are valuable assets to their communities, such as therapy dogs, assistance dogs, or advanced trained dogs such as drug dogs and search and rescue dogs. 24   Until more extensive statistical studies, using comprehensive counts of dogs and reliable breed identification, can be conducted, dog bite study results will not be certain enough to form the foundation for BSL, and even then the wisdom of BSL is suspect. Dog Fed'n of Wisconsin, 504 N.W.2d at 376. 40 Id., at 759 . LAWS § 287.351 (2001). In some areas, regulated breeds also include a variety of other dogs like American Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers or any mix of these breeds—and dogs who simply resemble thes… 39   The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the district court's findings that (1) the ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) the ordinance did not violate the state or federal due process rights of the plaintiffs; and (3) the ordinance did not violate the plaintiffs' equal protection rights under the United States and Kansas Constitutions. LEXIS at 5-6. 18. BSL saves not only the lives of victims but the lives of pit bulls. Passage of laws that are only enforced on complaint cause two problems:  they create disrespect for the law if the authorities require compliance only upon complaint, and they provide ammunition for neighborhood feuds. § 347.50 ; OKLA. 56   A comparable bill in Indiana allows prosecutors to hold dog owners responsible if their pets "attack anyone carrying out duties imposed by state, local, and federal law," including government and utility employees. . © 2020 Michigan State University College of Law. Proving that a particular dog falls within the ordinance usually requires expert testimony. United States. Breed Specific Legislation: The Gap in Emergency Preparedness Provisions for Household Pets, Amy Cattafi, 32 Seton Hall Legis. Unfortunately, large breeds of dogs such as Dobermans, German Shepherd Dogs, and Pit Bulls are popularly believed to be dangerous, and therefore may be judged more severely by judges than smaller, "cuddlier" breeds. The law should protect your community from all dangerous dogs. 2001). 26 Humans4antiBSL, Frequently Asked Questions, at FAQ.htm (last visited on March 11, 2001). 57 Owners can take a number of precautions to prevent aggressive situations with their dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC), one of the most prominent canine organizations in the world, recently issued a position statement on breed-specific laws: The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports dangerous dog control. It has led to dire consequences for thousands of pets and families across the United States. 4   In each of these situations, one breed of dog has been singled out as "inherently dangerous to society," regardless of the individual dogs' present or past behavior. The Michigan Court of Appeals, in a January, 2001 decision, ruled in a dog bite case which involved an interpretation of the Michigan dog-bite statute, M.C.L. 32. The statute regulates dog behavior, rather than the identified breed of dog. In recent years, however, many state and local governments have adopted a new tactic for eliminating dog aggression. One such organization, the Endangered Breed Association, was formed in 1980 and has focused on the preservation of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed, one of the breeds that has been deemed "dangerous" by some legislatures and courts. ch. by Kim Courtney. at 1534 . 1067, 1067-1068 (1984). Such regulation is more likely to be supported. 5 While this paper will focus on BSL as pertaining to dogs, it is important to note that similar laws have been applied to other animals. In the early 1980s, a number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by certain breeds, including pit bull dogs, brought to the public's attention a perceived need for more stringent laws governing restraint of dogs. Breed Specific Legislation in the United States. CODE § 701-25 (1983). 39 Hearn, 772 P.2d at 765 . recipient: US Federal Government/President Obama, Representatives & Senators Breed Specific Legislation is a knee-jerk reaction to a combination of misinformation, media hype and a relatively few irresponsible owners. 24 Id., at 295. 46 Lynn, 533 N.E.2d at 647 . 1533 (S.D. Properly drafted it has a stronger legal and evidentiary basis. Specific Goal: I will persuade my audience to oppose breed specific legislation in the United States. A city police department in Tukwila, Washington even recently welcomed their first pit bull K-9 officer. 37 Court Decisions Diane Blackman, in her article "Practicality of Breed Specific Legislation in Reducing or Eliminating Dog Attacks on Humans and Dogs," gives a concise summary of legal jurisprudence related to BSL: Breed specific legislation is probably not a practicable approach to regulation of dogs. These attacks were sensationalized by the media and used to spread fear. . 35 FLA. STAT. 46. 30, (3) Des Moines, Iowa defines "vicious dog" to include the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Pit Bull Terrier, and imposes stringent confinement, licensure, and control requirements (including provisions for animal seizure and disposal) upon any animals deemed "vicious" under the ordinance. 5 Marner, at 1069. 49   As a conduct-driven statute, the law focuses on the undesired behavior of the dog in order to curb it, rather than arbitrarily designating a particular breed as "vicious" and, by implication, recognizing other breeds as incapable of serious aggression. It has wasted tax-payer dollars, misguided animal control departments, and continued discrimination against these dogs and those who own them. 55 A bill proposed in California after a recent fatal mauling by two Presa Canario dogs does not focus on that breed in particular, but instead gives prosecutors power to press felony charges against "any person owning or having custody or control" of a dangerous dog, even if the person is not the dog's owner. In an attempt to curtail these types of attacks, government officials have adopted a number of measures, including licensing laws, statutes that outlaw organized dogfights, and leash laws. Under this reasoning, along with a commitment to public safety, municipalities are within their responsibilities when they regulate dogs. For example, Michigan's state statutes define a "dangerous animal" as: [A] dog or other animal that bites or attacks a person, or a dog that bites or attacks and causes serious injury or death to another dog while the other dog is on the property or under the control of its owner. The AKC and the purebred dog fancy have worked together to promote non-breed specific dangerous dog control legislation throughout the country. Entire organizations have been formed solely to challenge BSL. We, the undersigned, petition the President, Senate and Congress of the United States, to draft and pass federal legislation banning Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). For example, Peg Jordan, an Oakland, California resident, was mauled by a dog recently, and spent several days in the hospital with more surgery in the future. Proponents of breed-specific laws seek to limit public exposure to well-documented dangerous dog breeds by regulating the ownership of them. Breed-specific legislation is a law passed by a legislative body pertaining to a specific breed or breeds of domesticated animals. Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a type of law that prohibits or restricts particular breeds or … The Post-Conviction Remedy for Pit Bulls: What Today’s Science Tells Us About Breed-Specific Legislation, Katie Barnett, 67 Syracuse L. Rev. The breed has grown in popularity and can be found occupying the position of companion, family pet, service or working dog. Attacking the Dog-Bite Epidemic: Why Breed-Specific Legislation Won't Solve the Dangerous-Dog Dilemma, Safia Gray Hussain, 74 Fordham L. Rev. Despite the perceptions against them and the BSL outlawing them, pit bulls are still found within many communities. 7 Amyx v. Taber, 23 Cal. Breed-specific legislation is a type of dangerous dog law. 14 See . 19 Some opponents of BSL, such as the American Medical Veterinary Association, American Dog Owners Association, American Kennel Club, Westminster Kennel Club, and National Centers for Disease Control, claim that dog owners bear the burden for properly training and socializing all dog breeds and properly confining and leashing dogs. 1 (2004). CODE § 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii). 370, 371-372 (1863). Breed Specific Legislation: Unfair Prejudice and Ineffective Policy, Devin Burstein, 10 Animal L. 313 (2004). Learn about these laws in your state and if a state preemption law prevents these public safety ordinances. A dog should be kept in a locked enclosure when either inside or outside, especially when the owner is not present and in direct control of the animal. ", Laws Regulating Rescue and Foster Care Programs for Companion Animals Topic Intro, - Breed-specific laws state-by-state. STAT., tit. 32 NORTH LITTLE ROCK MUN. 33 MICH. COMP. 43   The appellate court affirmed the lower court holding that the "pit bull" aspects of the ordinance were not facially invalid for vagueness or overbreadth, nor did the ordinance violate the dogs' owners' right to equal protection of the law. 29, (2) Waterford Charter Township, Michigan has prohibited any prospective "possession, maintenance, and harboring" of any "pit bull terriers," and justifies the prohibition by stating that "the township has further concluded that it is in the interest of public health, safety and welfare that the presence of pit bull terriers be limited in this community to only those existing licensed pit bull terrier dogs in order that the threat of this breed will eventually be removed from this community." BSL identifies a dog a… The attacks have occurred in a variety of situations: organized dog fighting, responses of dogs to mistreatment, dogs acting as attack or guard animals, or the unexpected, random neighborhood altercation. Diane Blackman, Practicality of Breed Specific Legislation in Reducing or Eliminating Dog Attacks on Humans and Dogs (1995), available at (last visited on March 10, 2001). Denver’s BSL was allowed to stand under a “home rule” exemption that effectively deemed dog regulation a local municipal matter, rather than an issue for the state to take up. L. REV. Thesis: Breed Specific Legislation is ineffective and should be outlawed in the United States because breed identification methods are flawed, no dog breed is truly more dangerous than another, and the cost to enforce breed specific legislation is high. The majority of BSL is focused on breeds traditionally known as "dangerous," or those that have demonstrated particular propensities for aggression and violent behavior. CODE  § 8-55(a) (2001). 1989). " is a national dog bite victims' group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks. § 287.351. American Dog Owners Ass'n v. Lynn, 533 N.E.2d 642, 646 (Mass. Dogs like Rottweilers, Dobermans and chows are also frequently also affected by the laws. Cincinnati, Ohio recently overturned a ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes after the cost of enforcement dramatically increased. In this context, the term "vicious" does not address a dog's temperament - it simply is a synonym for "dangerous," even if the dangerous behavior is a result of a dog's tendency to be overly friendly. BSL made its appearance in the late 1980’s, following increased media attention surrounding dog attacks on community members. 51   It also recognizes that proactive measures, such as education sessions which promote responsible dog ownership and provide safety information about dealing with strange dogs, can be more effective than sanctions after an attack. In addition, the OVDO believes that the rights of all citizens should be protected through laws of general applicability regarding nuisances such as noise (anti-barking) and "pooper-scooper" laws. 42 Id., at 1543. This type of legislation is usually enacted by local municipal or county governments and operates under the presumption that certain physical characteristics make some breeds of dogs more dangerous than others. Ordinances outlawing pit bulls have at times clashed with disability rights by discriminating against owners with service dogs of a certain breed. Other litigants have claimed that seizure and destruction of a banned dog constitutes an improper taking of their property. 6 See, e.g., Boehm v. Philadelphia, 59 Pa. Super. New! does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks. Regulated breeds typically comprise the “pit bull” class of dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Bull Terriers. 21 Opponents also claim that identifying one breed over another as more "dangerous" is meaningless, because from year to year the breed of dog responsible for the most serious bites and attacks often changes, frequently in proportion to how popular the breed is overall. 58 Mary Randolph, DOG LAW 12/7-12/8 (Nolo Press, 1997). This tool, Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL), has been embraced by some communities, shunned by others, and strongly opposed by a number of dog owners and canine organizations. The author discusses the current state of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in several states, examining the efficacy of each law and the application to commonly assumed "dangerous breeds" of dogs. 9AEE-YUZ2: Breed-Specific Legislation in the United States |… Item Preview 1 Lynn Marner, Comment:  The New Breed of Municipal Dog Control Laws:  Are They Constitutional? OF WATERFORD, MICH., CODE OF ORDINANCES ch. 9, 2001, at,1575,SAV-0103080024,00.html . A local government’s general police power, and authority to regulate animals both wild and domestic overcomes constitutional challenges and any state preemption to BSL. . Another impetus for overturning breed bans has been cost. 48. 4 CINCINNATI, OHIO MUN. 47   The statute provides, in pertinent part: If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. Breed-specific legislation refers to laws, ordinances, and regulations that impose restrictions or bans on dogs of specific breeds. As such, pit bulls were labeled aggressive, powerful and often attacking unprovoked. LEXIS 2, No. 48 MICH. COMP. 52 Id. (ii) An animal that bites or attacks a person who provokes or torments the animal. This has inevitably led to conflict, litigation, and protest from dog owners and breed advocates. For example, in a 1989 decision, the Kansas Supreme Court held that an ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bulls within the city was permissible. 53 U. CIN. The general purpose of these laws is to either discourage, restrict, or prohibit certain breeds of dogs which are defined as "dangerous" within certain jurisdictions. 15, 2001.) Despite what appears to be the lessening of the dog bite problem in the United States, probably through educational efforts over the last 20 years, many communities continued to favor enactment of breed specific legislation – often following the publicity of a dog bite fatality or a severe mauling of a child by pit bull or Rottweiler. For example, in 2004, the Colorado state legislature amended state law to prohibit municipalities from regulating dangerous dogs by breed. Instead of holding all dog owners accountable for their behavior, breed specific laws place restrictions only on the owners of certain breeds of dogs. 1285 (2007). 19 Wallman, supra n. 11. 58 The common thread running through these proposals is a focus on preventing dogs' ) and their owners') misconduct, rather than preventing a breed in the absence of misconduct. After a task force researched the issue and made recommendations, the Council voted instead to enforce generic "dangerous dog laws," and implement a preventative educational program. [Emphasis added.] 44 Dog Fed'n of Wisconsin, 504 N.W.2d at 376 . This site is not a law firm and cannot offer legal advice. In Section 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii), the Ohio Legislature has stated that a vicious dog includes one which "belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog . 28   The ordinance defines "pit bull" as "any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds." 40     A similar case,  American Dog Owners Ass'n v. Dade County , 728 F. Supp. Breed Specific Legislation was originally adopted as a safety measure to protect citizens from attack by dangerous dogs, specifically the breed commonly called the Pit Bull.

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