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“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is, essentially, canine bigotry. More specifically, the term refers to regional laws that ban or regulate certain breeds of dog in the hopes of reducing attacks on humans.

Not only is BSL unjust, it just doesn’t work. Anywhere. And the stats prove it.

Because of this, many cities (and states and countries) have repealed their antiquated BSL laws over the years, but far too many cities and municipalities (including Denver and Miami) have them intact.

Legalized discrimination, much? These laws are based on nothing more than misconceptions, misinformation and fear.

So, here are ten facts about BSL, and what you can do to take action:

1. BSL Kills.

Because of these BSL (and widespread misinformation), pit bulls have almost no chance of survival in public shelters. In many regions, they’re killed immediately upon shelter admission, with no opportunity to find a new home. Their euthanasia rate, overall, hovers around a staggering 93 percent.

2. Dog Bite Fatalities are Extremely Rare. 

Between 1999 and 2006, an average of 27 Americans died each year as a result of a dog attack, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association report. Meanwhile, estimates suggest an average of 40 to 50 Americans die each year from lightning strikes.

3. There’s No Evidence That Banning Breeds has Any Impact on Dog Bites.


4. Most Bans Affect Pit Bulls, but Other Breeds Can Be Included as Well.

Meanwhile, pit bulls score extremely high on temperament tests. According to the American Temperament Testing Society, Inc., the American Pit Bull Terrier achieved a passing rate of 86.8 percent (better than collies, golden retrievers, and beagles), which means they rank fourth highest of the 122 breeds tested.

Additionally, a “pit bull” isn’t even actually a breed. Instead, it’s a term used to describe a stockier type of terrier that includes the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and mixes of the above.

Other breeds that can also be affected by BSL include American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers … even Chihuahuas and Shar Peis (or dogs that just look like any of the above).

5. BSL Tears Families Apart.

If  a breed ban is in effect in a community, authorities have the right to take a dog from its family. Often, these dogs end up euthanized, despite the fact that they have a loving home.

6. Researchers Have Identified the Factors That Lead to Dog Bites. Breed Isn’t One of Them.

According to stats on dog bite-related fatalities published by the National Canine Research Council, factors include:

  • no able-bodied person being present to intervene (87.1 percent)
  • the victim having no familiar relationship with the dog(s) (85.2 percent)
  • the owner’s prior mismanagement of the dog(s) (37.5 percent)
  • and the owner’s abuse or neglect of dog(s) (21.1 percent).

According to their research, these and other factors were present in “80.5 percent of cases.”

7. Identifying a “Pit Bull” is Completely Subjective.

Because the term refers to a whole host of breeds and mixes, shelter workers and city officials often wrongfully label dogs as pit bulls, which can mean a death sentence for the animal involved. According to the the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2013 paper, in cases of bite fatalities, “the breed(s) of the dog or dogs could not be reliably identified in more than 80 percent of cases.”

8. All the Legit Organizations are Against BSL.

The Humane Society of the U.S., the ASPCA, the United Kennel Club, the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Kennel Club, Best Friends Animal Society, the CDC, even the Obama administration (and so many more) is against BSL.

9. The Public is Against BSL.

According to a poll commissioned by Best Friends Animal Society, 84 percent of those surveyed said “local, state or federal governments should not infringe on a person’s right to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”

10. BSL Wastes Money. 

Enforcement costs a fortune, from staffing to litigation to the price of unnecessarily killing dogs in shelters. Best Friends Animal Society even offers a calculator that estimates fiscal impact. In Miami, a city that still enforces BSL, it rings in at $603,445 annually … with no reduction in dog bites to show for it.

The good news is, many organizations are working to strike down these antiquated laws, and you can help.

Here’s how

  • Join a group that’s working for anti-BSL and pit bull advocacy. A few include Hershey Anti-BSL Group, Stop BSLLove-A-Bull and the Miami Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation.
  • If you live in an area with BSL, contact your elected representatives and express your opinion on the issue.
  • Spay/neuter your pets, and encourage others to do the same. According to the ASPCA, more than 70 percent of dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • Educate everyone you talk to. Many animal-lovers are still unaware of the unjust nature of these laws. Spread the word and the facts.
  • Adopt (or foster) a pibble! Their shelter death rates are dismal, and every home helps.

Any other suggestions, Green Monsters? Share them in the comments!

Image source: maplegirlie/Flickr

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0 comments on “10 Facts About Breed-Specific Legislation and How You Can Help Stop It”

Click to add comment
2 Months Ago

Also, spaying and neutering only makes a dog more aggressive, not the opposite like previously believed.
Besides, not only is it genital mutilation and cruel, it\'s also speciesism, anthropocenity, and denying a non-human animal their basic right to breed because apparently "breeding is restricted to humans only". Meanwhile, the human population is way larger than all of the non-human animal populations combined and yet no one cares.

2 Months Ago

"a “pit bull” isn’t even actually a breed."
Again, yes. They are. That\'s like saying German Shepherd are not a breed. You\'re thinking of mastiffs.

1 Years Ago

The BSL is a bunch of baloney hatched by the INSURANCE COMPANIES based on flawed and outdated information and proof to the contrary. It will only end when an organization or organizations sue them based on THE BASIS OF DISCRIMINATION...............AND THE INSURANCES KNOW THEY WILL LOSE. I CAN\'T WAIT.


Monika Koestler
1 Years Ago

It is a typical decision by officious authorities who have never really taken a Close look at the Problem. Humans have in former years legally and now still legally forced These inherently peaceful Dogs to fight. There are millions of Yorkshire Terriers and other small breeds that are substantially more aggfressive than These Dogs are by nature ever. And now humans again are making These Dogs, who had and have no say in the matter, suffer again. First they had to endure the fighting which is not natural to them and now they have to endure the unnatural human fear which is again making suffer. This world would be a much better place if we did the right Thing and banned the breed that always has and is now again causing the Problems - the humans.

David A. Hereaux
3 Years Ago

I live in a mobile home park, Five Star estates, they are BSL. Is there any way to fight this? I am about to lose my Bunnie. She is a Blue Nose Pittie. She\'s harmless and loveable. I love her deeply and don\'t want to lose her. If anyone can help, you can find me on Facebook.

cheyenne m
19 Sep 2016


Terry Holt
4 Years Ago

it\'s refreshing to read an informative factually based legitimate artickle as opposed to dogbite spin, how long before the foamers arrive and cut loose with their hate talk and fear mongering, oh wait a minute there\'s no victims to use here, we\'re probably safe from infection.

Karin Yates
4 Years Ago

I don\'t think pit bulls should be banned, but there should be requirements to spay/neuter. Shelters these days are over 90% pits/pit mixes.

David A. Hereaux
10 Oct 2014

All dogs and cats should be spay/neutered. No matter what. The torture they receive because of overpopulation and worthless "owners" is at an epidemic proportion. The breed has nothing to do with it.

Chef David Edelstein M
4 Years Ago

Great Article. Its encouraging to see a non-animal welfare specific information source cover this topic and actually reach out to those IN animal welfare for facts vs going on hap-hazard news media (typically inaccurate) as a source.

A couple additions readers might find helpful:

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and their official position on Breed Specific Legislation

2013 Report Published in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
(December 2013)
American Veterinary Medicine Association
The National Center For Disease Control
The National Canine Research Council
On Dog Bite Prevention

Again... great article.

Team Pit-a-Full
Denver, CO


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