Ending dog breed discrimination against pit bull terriers and other dogs
Best Friends Animal Society believes all dogs are individuals and deserve a chance at happy lives, no matter their breed.
What is "breed-specific legislation" (BSL)?
Breed-specific legislation (also known as BSL) refers to laws that ban or restrict certain types of dogs based simply on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as dangerous.
BSL is a misnomer in that BSL laws are anything but specific. These laws target dogs not because they are a specific breed, but because someone thinks they may look like a certain breed. And even if dogs may look alike, it doesn’t mean they will behave the same way. BSL is sometimes known by another acronym: BDL, or breed discriminatory legislation. Best Friends prefers to use the term breed discriminatory legislation, as it more accurately describes these types of laws.
Dog breed discrimination
One of Best Friends' main goals involves working to eliminate dog breed discrimination. Dog breed bans and other forms of breed discriminatory legislation force many people to give up their beloved pets. In America, responsible people should be allowed to love and care for any breed of dog they choose. Working together, we can ensure that every loving pet — no matter the breed — receives a loving home.
VIDEO: Lawmakers discuss the benefits of repealing and preventing breed-specific legislation.
Pit bull terrier facts and myths
Are certain breeds of dogs inherently aggressive and dangerous? Some people assume some breeds of dogs are more prone to attacking and biting, though this is a misconception. BSL is often enacted to ease fears over public safety, but these laws are ineffective and very costly. To better understand how costly breed discrimination is for your community, check out the fiscal impact calculator or read the impact study recently completed for this local community.
Pit bull terrier dogs and puppies are the most frequently and unjustly targeted by breed discriminatory legislation as inherently vicious, aggressive and dangerous, though this is not the case, as shown by research, studies and policies from the National Canine Research Council, the Center for Disease Control and the American Bar Association. Unfortunately, negative media attention and the fact that particular breeds of dogs are used in illegal dogfighting has given these dogs a bad reputation.
Best Friends is committed to changing public perception of these dogs with facts, statistics and stories that illustrate their true, loving natures. Documentary films like The Champions, which chronicles life after the fighting ring for the dogs rescued from the property of professional football player Michael Vick, are key to telling that story.
States with provisions against canine breed restriction
As of 2019, 22 states (marked in orange on map below) have passed provisions against breed discriminatory legislation, and we’re working every day to increase that number.
Take action to end breed discrimination
Take a stand for pit bull terriers and other dogs in need. Join the 2025 Action Team for resources on organizing your community, communicating with elected officials, advocating against ineffective "pit bull bans," and much more. View legislative alerts about ordinances and laws that may affect your city, county, or state and take action where applicable.
Want to learn more?
Pit Bull Ban a Waste of Taxpayer Dollars. This article by the Platte Institute discusses how pit bull bans affect responsible owners who have raised their pets as family members. Negligent owners who are attracted to pit bulls because of their negative reputation and who use them as status symbols or for fighting will not be influenced by the law.
American Bar Association resolution. The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed a resolution in 2012 urging all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership, and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs. The resolution also urges the repeal of any breed-discriminatory or breed-specific provisions.
Dog Breed-Neutral Laws for Safe Communities. Effective laws address the behavior of dog owners and the resulting behavior of their individual dogs and put regulations in place to restrict and restrain any dangerous dog.
Breed Discrimination in the Homeowners Insurance Industry. This white paper discusses the discriminatory impact of the insurance industry’s use of dog breed lists to deny homeowner and renters insurance coverage and renewals, create policy exclusions, and place limitations on coverage.