Large breed dog

Many local dog breed bans violate the Constitution

Can you imagine bureaucrats telling you what kind of pet dog you can own?

Twenty-two states have laws that prohibit governmental overreach, but unfortunately, some states still allow outdated local laws that would prohibit you from owning certain dogs, like Doberman pinschers or German shepherds.

Dog breed bans are ineffective because they focus on the wrong thing. Studies show that dog breed is not a factor in bites. Instead, the focus should be on the behavior of the dog and the behavior of the owner.

Every American should have the right to own whatever breed of dog he or she chooses – it's that simple.

A 2014 national survey done by Luntz Global revealed that 94% of Americans don’t believe that the government should dictate what breeds of dog they can own.

Are certain breeds of dogs more aggressive?

Some people assume specific breeds of dogs are more prone to attacking and biting, but this is incorrect. Legislation that targets specific breeds is often a knee-jerk reaction to one media-driven incident. But these laws are ineffective and very costly for local governments and consumers.

Dogs of a variety of breeds (e.g., German shepherds, chows, Rottweilers, pit bull terriers, and Doberman pinschers) are unjustly targeted by breed-specific legislation. Peer-reviewed studies published on the National Canine Research Council website reveal that most of the factors involved in a dog bite are things that the owner controls – not the dog’s heritage. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Care & Control Association, and the American Bar Association all support the repeal of breed-specific laws. Unfortunately, fake news has given certain breeds of dogs a bad reputation.

Dog breed bans fail to enhance public safety and lead to costly litigation

That is why the International Municipal Lawyers Association issued a new model dangerous-dog ordinance in 2018, removing the breed-specific section. Breed-specific ordinances not only often violate the due process clause of the Constitution, but they also usually violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Creating safe communities is a priority for all of us.  

Everyone — both people and pets — benefits from safe communities. Rather than pass laws that punish innocent pets for being born a certain breed and their responsible owners, our communities should hold reckless owners accountable for dogs who are dangerous. And efforts to protect community members from dangerous dogs are a key component of any public safety plan.

Individual accountability is the only effective approach to protecting both people and pets. When it comes to enforcing dangerous dog laws, our focus should be on negligent and reckless owners, not the breed of the pet.

States with provisions against dog breed restrictions

As of 2019, 22 states (marked in orange on map below) have passed provisions against breed-restrictive legislation, and we’re working every day to increase that number.

Breed Discriminatory Legislation Repeals

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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.

Why Breed-Specific Legislation Is Ineffective: Breed-specific legislation (BSL) affecting pit bull terriers, is ineffective at keeping communities safe because such laws target the wrong thing and ignore the real issue.

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-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.

Why breed restrictions are ineffective: The best laws address the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and put regulations in place to restrain and restrict any dangerous dog. 

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If you would like to learn more about the model legislation that we are proposing to protect pet owners’ rights, contact us.