In only the first half of 2018, eleven U.S. cities and towns have successfully repealed breed specific legislation (BSL) that targeted and discriminated against "pitbull-type" dogs and their owners. Almost always, ineffective BSL is replaced with stronger and more equitable breed-neutral regulations which are more effective because they address all irresponsible owners and all dangerous dogs - regardless of a dog's breed. All around the country and across different political spectrums the trend is clear - BSL and breed bans are being challenged and of those challenged, many are being successfully repealed. Below, we list the 11 cities and towns that have repealed BSL so far this year followed by a few key reasons for why BSL continues to be defeated.
U.S. cities and towns that have repealed BSL in 2018 (January-June):
Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.
BSL is being challenged and repealed for a number of reasons including:
Regardless of any personal opinions about specific breeds (or types) of dogs, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is ineffective and that pitbull-type dogs are not "more dangerous" than other strong breed dogs. Furthermore, the risk rates for pitbull-type dogs are fully in-line with other strong breeds given their growing population size. So it's really no surprise that when BSL is challenged by informed citizens and public officials, BSL is often repealed and replaced with stronger breed-neutral regulations that address all dangerous dogs, all bad owners, and all risky dog-related situations - regardless of breed. A big congratulations to the 11 cities and towns that have repealed BSL in the first half of this year!
Great news in Canada: Yesterday, in an important defeat of discriminatory breed-specific legislation (BSL), the province of Quebec abandoned a proposal to enact a province-wide ban against "pitbull-type" dogs and Rottweilers (comparable to a state-wide ban in the U.S.). After reviewing the scientific evidence, listening to expert testimony, and understanding the facts about canine behavior and aggression, Quebec officials firmly rejected the proposed breed-specific ban and decided to instead work on implementing stronger and more effective breed-neutral regulations. Furthermore, Quebec also refuted misinformation including unscientific statistics and fear-based stereotypes about pitbull-type dogs provided by discriminatory special-interest organizations.
There's been no scientific evidence to prove such a ban is effective ... or that the dogs are genetically inclined to be aggressive
Quebec Bill 128 (that we've been closely following) titled "An Act to promote the protection of persons by establishing a framework with regard to dogs" was introduced in April, 2017 and originally included provisions for a breed-specific ban against pitbull-type dogs and Rottweilers. While it at first appeared to have momentum, that momentum quickly came to a halt after citizens of Quebec, responsible dog owners, and public safety experts became aware of the breed-specific provisions in the bill. Now after over a year of review and debate, the bill will be moving forward but without any of the breed-specific provisions. Instead, Bill 128 will include the stronger breed-neutral provisions that were endorsed by numerous public safety and canine behavior experts during the bill's review and testimony sessions.
Breed-specific rules would be problematic ... we want to have rules that will be applied, that will be observed
A big congratulations to the government of Quebec for not only rejecting ineffective and discriminatory breed-specifc legislation, but also for making strong public statements against the misguided and ineffective practice of banning dogs based on appearance or breed. If the amended version of Bill 128 is enacted, it will be a strong endorsement of breed-neutral regulations that improve public safety by addressing all irresponsible dog owners and all dangerous dogs - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. After reviewing scientific evidence and expert testimony, Quebec is the latest governing body to acknowledge that breed-specific bans are ineffective, not based on science, and that breed-neutral regulations are the superior option for public safety and safer communities.
After meeting the experts ... the government came to the conclusion that targeting a specific race (breed) is not applicable (effective)
There is nothing about a dog’s breed that makes them any more dangerous than another breed ... what is a factor is size, so bigger dogs can do more damage
While Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is being challenged and repealed in multiple cities across the U.S., BSL is now also being challenged in the UK which enacted a national ban against owning certain dog breeds including the Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, and "pitbull-type" dogs in 1991. An analysis of the effectiveness of the ban has concluded that it has been largely ineffective as it has 100% failed to reduce serious dog bite-related incidents and also 100% failed to eliminate fatal dog attacks. Below, we summarize some of the initial findings from the analysis conducted by the UK's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the RSPCA.
Since the UK enacted the "Dangerous Dogs Act" in 1991:
The legislation is failing the public – since the Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991, hospital admissions for dog bites in England have risen showing that the law simply isn’t working
After almost 30 years of BSL in the UK, the data is proving that BSL has been ineffective for reducing serious dog bite-related incidents and therefore has not improved public safety. Meanwhile, multiple towns and cities across the U.S. have recently repealed BSL and eliminated their breed-based bans because they have reached similar conclusions. The data and evidence (in multiple cities and countries with BSL) consistently shows that BSL is ineffective and that comprehensive breed-neutral regulations, that address all irresponsible owners and all potentially dangerous dogs (regardless of the dog's appearance or breed), are far more effective.
The fact is that the way a dog looks and his breed is not a predictor of whether he or she is likely to be aggressive
The government is responsible for protecting the public ... so it is essential that laws evolve alongside our understanding of what works
We are fairly confident that after the UK completes their investigation into the effectiveness of BSL that they will eliminate their ineffective breed-based policies and replace them with stronger and more effective breed-neutral regulations that not only benefit public safety, but also responsible dog owners and their four-legged family members.
Great news in Colorado: Last night, Castle Rock repealed Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which banned pitbull-type dogs within the city and replaced it with more effective and equitable breed-neutral regulations. Supported by robust public support from city residents, the Town Council voted unanimously (5-0) to put an end to the ineffective and discriminatory BSL that banned dogs within the city based only on their appearance or breed. The vote replaces the city's BSL, which had been in place for 25 years, with stronger and more effective breed-neutral regulations that include well-defined provisions to more effectively address irresponsible ownership and dogs that have previously shown to be aggressive or dangerous.
Congratulations to the Castle Rock Town Council for voting to improve public safety by replacing ineffective BSL with stronger breed-neutral regulations that address all potentially dangerous dogs and all irresponsible owners, regardless of the dog's appearance or breed. Additionally, the Town Council can also be congratulated for rejecting long-debunked myths and stereotypes about pitbull-type dogs, misinformation, inaccurate statistics, and discriminatory agendas from special-interest organizations that they received in a number of comments, emails, and letters (that we also reviewed) through the public comment process. Moreover, the majority of public comments were in favor of repealing BSL.
Law enforcement officials also spoke out, telling the council that lifting the ban would not jeopardize safety
A citizen-driven grassroots group in Castle Rock, End Castle Rock BSL, began its efforts over a year ago to help repeal BSL within the city. The group collaborated and worked with the broader Castle Rock community, animal control, and the town government to replace the city's BSL with more effective and more equitable breed-neutral regulations. This demonstrates how a small but focused group of citizens can work with the community and the city government to successfully promote and bring about positive change. A big thank you to End Castle Rock BSL for their work towards ending ineffective and discriminatory BSL in Castle Rock.
BSL in Colorado is unpopular and rare as only 8 of Colorado's 271 municipalities have BSL enacted. And as of today, there are now only 7 cities in Colorado with BSL (mostly in the Denver metro area) - Castle Rock represents the first of these cities with BSL in Colorado to successfully repeal it. We believe that Castle Rock's model for repealing BSL with stronger, enforceable, and well-defined breed-neutral regulations can be used as a model to repeal BSL in other cities and towns that still have BSL - including Denver, Miami, and others. Castle Rock's new comprehensive and well-defined breed-neutral regulations made it an easy vote for the Town Council that benefits great dogs, responsible dog owners, and public safety.
The data confirms that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue:
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is ineffective and obsolete given the number of different breeds and dog types associated with serious dog bite-related incidents such as fatal dog attacks. Furthermore, the number of incidents associated with each breed is more closely related to each breed's population size and its risk rate than to any "inherent risk" in a specific breed or dog type.
To reduce the number of serious dog bite-related incidents and improve public safety, the data shows that comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the more effective and equitable solution because they address all potentially dangerous dogs and all irresponsible owners, regardless of the dog's appearance or breed. Public safety is not a breed-specific issue.
All strong or large dogs (of any breed) can cause serious injuries or worse, fatalities. Over a 20 year period, 30+ breeds have been involved in fatal incidents in the U.S. alone. Just last month on March 7, there was a sad and unfortunate tragedy in Virginia when the family dog, a northern breed (Malamute/wolf-hybrid mix), fatally attacked an 8-day old baby girl. The attack happened when the baby was left unattended in her bassinet while her mother was preparing lunch in the kitchen. The dog was loved, properly cared for, had never previously shown any signs of aggression, and was described as "very friendly". It’s a tragedy that emphasizes the importance of always carefully supervising strong or large dogs (of any breed) when they are around infants and children - including loved and well-behaved family dogs. To educate on this point, below we list the 30+ different breeds and dog types identified in a CDC study that were involved in fatal dog attacks over a 20 year period in the U.S. - evidence that attempting to legislate dogs based on appearance or breed is an ineffective and obsolete approach for safety because a wide variety of dog types and many different breeds and mixes have been implicated in serious incidents.
30+ breeds and dog types implicated in fatal dog attacks (alphabetical order):
... the dog had previously shown no signs of aggressive behavior to any foster care worker, veterinarian, or the other young children in the home. This is simply a horrific tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the child that died
The fact is that any strong or large dogs (of any breed) can cause serious incidents - including dogs that are considered the loved, family dog. This highlights why breed-based bans and breed-specific legislation (BSL) are ineffective because there are many different dog types, breeds, and mixes that can become aggressive and cause injuries or worse, fatalities. And while comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the most effective approach because they address all potentially dangerous dogs (regardless of breed) and all irresponsible dog owners, tragic incidents will unfortunately occur and the extensive breed list above is clear evidence that these incidents are not a breed-specific issue - proper training, supervision, and safety awareness is required for all strong or large dogs, regardless of breed.
Great news: Since only February, four more cities have repealed breed-specific legislation (BSL) against pitbull-type dogs including Reynoldsburg OH, Lakewood OH, Ironton MO, and Anamosa IA. A big congratulations to these cities for repealing discriminatory breed-specific legislation that multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded is ineffective for reducing serious dog bite incidents. Almost always, ineffective breed-based bans are replaced with more effective comprehensive breed-neutral regulations that improve public safety by addressing all dangerous dogs and irresponsible ownership - regardless of the dog's breed. Below, we summarize the key differences between breed-specific and breed-neutral regulations and highlight the reasons why comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the widely preferred standard and the more effective solution recommended by public safety experts and veterinary professionals.
Breed Specific Legislation:
Breed Neutral Legislation:
No more lawsuits, no more delays ... freedom wins today in Reynoldsburg
What veterinary, public safety, and legal experts say:
To improve public safety and reduce the number of serious dog bite-related incidents, the scientific studies, experts, and the vast majority (98%) of cities and towns in the U.S. all agree that breed-neutral regulations are the most effective, most equitable, and most enforceable solution. But more importantly, comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the best solution to protect children, adults, and pets from serious dog bite-related incidents because they address all irresponsible owners and all dangerous dogs, regardless of breed. The old and obsolete policy of "banning dogs" has proven over and over again to be ineffective, unpopular, and difficult to enforce - so it is entirely reasonable that over time, cities and towns with BSL will continue to upgrade their animal control policies by replacing breed-specific bans with more effective, stronger, and comprehensive breed-neutral regulations.
Congratulations to Hastings, Michigan for being the latest city to reject breed bans by repealing their breed-specific legislation (BSL) in favor of stronger breed-neutral regulations! Last week, the city council voted to strengthen their vicious-dog ordinance so that it addresses dangerous dogs of any breed (based on behavior) - instead of its previous limited focus that was based on a dog's appearance or breed. All around the country, the trend is clear: BSL and breed bans are being challenged and of those challenged, many are being successfully repealed. Below, we list several of the main reasons why many communities are rejecting ineffective breed bans in favor of stronger breed-neutral regulations.
Reason #1 - Pitbull-type dogs are popular mainstream dogs:
Pitbull-type dogs and their mixes are in no way “fringe” or unpopular dogs, they are instead one of the most popular dog-types in the U.S. and they have always been core to our history. The fact is that pitbull-type dogs are mainstream dogs known to have an excellent temperament that are loved by millions of Americans as they are the 3rd most popular dog type adopted from shelters and the 5th most popular dog type registered by veterinarians. Therefore, the popularity of pitbull-type dogs makes breed bans a challenge as they affect a large and growing number of responsible dog owners.
Reason #2 - Breed bans are not supported by science:
There is robust scientific evidence that dogs identified as “pitbull-type” dogs are not more dangerous than other strong breeds. On our scientific studies page, we list multiple scientific peer-reviewed studies that have concluded that pitbull-type dogs are not more dangerous, not more aggressive, and their bites are not more severe than other strong breeds. Furthermore, the studies have also found that factors related to irresponsible ownership (and not breed) are the primary factor for dog bite-related incidents and that breed-specific legislation is largely ineffective for reducing serious bite-related incidents. Regardless of personal opinions about specific breeds or dog types, the science is clear: breed bans are not only ineffective - but also not justified by science. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly difficult for cities to defend breed bans when they are challenged.
Reason #3 - Enforcement of breed bans is difficult and costly:
Breed bans assume that the visual identification of pitbull-type dogs is easy and accurate when in reality, the opposite is true: controlled scientific studies have found that visual identification of pitbull-type dogs is complex and prone to significant error. In fact, the average percentage of "pitbull-type" dogs that were misidentified in two controlled studies was 50% (half of the dogs that were visually identified as "pitbull-type" did not have DNA signatures from any of the pitbull-type breeds). Therefore, cities with breed bans are burdened with using public resources to regulate dogs primarily based on a dog’s appearance or breed (regardless of responsible ownership or a dog's behavior) which inevitably leads to increased and unnecessary enforcement related expenses (DNA tests, breed evaluations, court costs, etc.) and even costly legal challenges.
Reason #4 - Strong breed-neutral regulations are the more effective solution for public safety:
Effective canine legislation should focus on any and all dangerous dogs - regardless of breed. In 2017 alone, at least 12 different breeds were involved in fatal dog attacks, confirming that public safety is not a breed-specific issue. Therefore, public safety requires legislation that addresses all dangerous dogs (based on a dog’s behavior and/or history) and all irresponsible owners (regardless of their dog’s breed). There are many strong breeds (Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Mastiff-types, Dogo-Argentinos, and too many more to list) that require responsible ownership and effective behavior-based legislation. Breed bans do nothing to address the factors directly linked to serious dog bite-related incidents such as irresponsible ownership and dogs with behavior problems. The fact is that strong and comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the most effective solution for public safety since they address all potentially dangerous dogs and all irresponsible dog owners.
Punishing responsible owners and good dogs instead of addressing irresponsible owners and dangerous dogs is not only nonsensical, but also detrimental to public safety. As more and more communities with breed bans realize this, breed bans will continue to be challenged in favor of stronger breed-neutral regulations that are more equitable for responsible dog owners and more beneficial for public safety.
One of the common arguments used by anti-pitbull activists and organizations to promote discriminatory breed-specific legislation (BSL) is claiming that “because we can't prevent irresponsible ownership, certain dogs should be banned”. If this same logic is applied to cars (because of the fact that we can't prevent irresponsible drivers), then all cars would be banned. Below, we examine the logic of the "irresponsible owner" argument and use cars as an analogy to show that the argument is a fallacy.
The "irresponsible owner" argument goes like this:
Keeping in mind that:
So, using cars as an analogy - the "irresponsible driver" argument would go like this:
Does banning cars sound ridiculous? That's because it is. Not only does banning cars assign blame to the car (instead of to the driver), but banning cars also punishes all other responsible drivers. The same is true for dogs - banning certain dogs assigns blame to the dog (instead of to the owner) and it punishes all other responsible dog owners.
The bottom line is that the "irresponsible owner" argument is a fallacy because the argument's logic fails when applied to almost all other elements of modern society that carry risk - cars, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, sports, and too many more to list. It's an irrational argument that isn't based on logic, science, or risk - but instead, based on long debunked myths and stereotypes about pitbull-type dogs.
A few public safety stats - on average every year in the U.S. there are:
The reality is that it’s impossible to completely eliminate all risk in society and the risk associated with dogs, including the millions of pitbull-type dogs and their mixes in the U.S., is already one of the lowest levels of risk in society (the risk of a fatal lighting strike is almost 2x higher than the risk of a fatal dog attack). For cars, effective laws and regulations that reduce risk apply to all drivers and their behavior - regardless of the type or model of the vehicle that they own. The same is true for dogs, effective laws and regulations should apply to all owners and their behavior - regardless of the type or breed of dog that they own. This is why breed-neutral regulations, which enforce and promote the responsible ownership of all dogs regardless of breed, are the widely preferred standard in the U.S. for public safety (less than 3% of cities and towns have BSL enacted). The objective of any canine legislation should be to promote and enforce the responsible ownership of all dogs, regardless of breed - and not ineffective and discriminatory bans that punish great dogs and responsible dog owners.
Since November, breed-specific legislation (aka BSL or a breed ban) has been repealed in three more U.S. cities including: Mansfield OH, New Albany OH, and Libby MT. More and more, BSL is being recognized for what it truly is - an inhumane, dark ages policy that is based on fear and stereotypes that even when implemented, is ineffective for improving public safety because of the fact that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. Congratulations to Mansfield, New Albany, and Libby for being the latest cities to repeal BSL in favor of stronger, more effective breed-neutral regulations!
Regardless of any personal opinions about specific breeds (or types) of dogs, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is ineffective and that "pitbull-type" dogs are not "more dangerous" than other strong breed dogs. Furthermore, the risk rates for pitbull-type dogs are fully in-line with other large and strong breeds given their growing population size.
This ban is not working
I would rather have a uniform piece of (breed-neutral) legislation citywide for enforcement
But now, we’re not living in that time ... the pit bull has entered the mainstream pet world
All across the U.S., BSL and breed bans are continually being challenged because:
It's really no surprise that when BSL is challenged by informed citizens and public officials, more and more often BSL is being repealed and replaced with stronger breed-neutral regulations that are based on facts and enhance public safety by allowing public safety officials to address any potentially dangerous dog, any bad owner, and any dog-related situation - instead of being restricted by an obsolete regulation that limits enforcement and penalties based on a dog's appearance or breed.
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