Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws that ban or restrict certain types of dogs based simply on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as dangerous. 

These outdated laws and ordinances limit responsible people’s right to love and care for any breed of dog they choose. In addition, BSL often forces people to give up their innocent pets, which no one should have to do. That’s why, with your help, Best Friends is dedicated to eliminating breed-specific legislation once and for all. 

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Big dogs are at risk

Everyone who follows the safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to care for whatever breed of dog they choose.

It’s that simple, but local governments often interfere with this right. They do so through breed-specific legislation (BSL) and as a result, restrictive laws are in place in communities around the country. These laws create limitations for families with pets and stifle potential adoptions.

These outdated laws assume that certain dogs are dangerous based solely on their appearance rather than their actual behavior. BSL limits the right of responsible people to adopt and care for any breed of dog they choose.  

As a result of BSL and limited pet-friendly housing options, big dogs have a harder time getting adopted compared to their smaller counterparts, leaving them more at risk in shelters.

Plus, these restrictions force many responsible people to surrender their dogs to animal shelters, separating families from their beloved pets. 

Where dogs need your help:

IA: Help end breed bans in Iowa »

MN: Help end breed-restrictive insurance practices »

CT: Help end breed-restrictive insurance practices »

IL: Help end breed-restrictive insurance practices »

We're helping to change breed-restrictive laws 

Best Friends is committed to making America a friendlier place for big dogs by taking action against breed restrictions — and you can help. 

We’re giving people the tools they need to help them keep their pets. And we’re spreading the word to housing providers that being pet-friendly has many benefits. We’re also teaming up with legislators, decision-makers and other community stakeholders nationwide to repeal breed-specific ordinances and policies.

In addition, members of our grassroots advocacy team (the 2025 Action Team) work around the country to communicate with elected officials and advocate against BSL. With your help, more pets can stay with their families. 

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Creating safe, humane communities is a priority for all of us. The only way to do that and protect both people and pets is by passing and enforcing laws that emphasize public safety and individual accountability. We call this breed-neutral laws because when it comes to enforcing dangerous-dog laws, the focus should be on negligent and reckless owners, not the breed of the dog.  


Ending breed restrictions in communities like yours

Breed-specific restrictions don’t make communities safer, they don’t reduce risk, and they don’t protect people or pets. 

Help end breed-restrictive insurance policies 

More big dogs end up in shelters when people are denied coverage or are dropped by their insurance company because of their dog’s breed, size or appearance.

Best Friends is urging state insurance commissions to protect consumers and focus on the behavior of the dog, rather than the size or breed. You can help by signing a petition targeting your state’s insurance commission.

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Need help? Check out our pet-friendly housing guide.  

Read the guide »



Be an effective advocate: end breed-specific legislation

Not sure where to start? We’ve put together some resources to help you learn more and take action. 

We want to hear your story 

If you’ve struggled to find housing, have been denied housing or insurance, or have been forced to move or surrender your beloved dog because of restrictive pet policies, we want to hear your story.

The elected officials with whom we work to change laws and policies are unaware of the depth of this problem and how harmful these policies are to their constituents. Being able to share real-life stories like yours with decision-makers is the most persuasive tool we have to create positive change for pets and the families who love them.