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the trend is clear: BSL and breed bans are being challenged and of those challenged, many are being successfully repealed.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.
Blog & News
Insight, news, and analysis on issues and topics relevant to pitbull-type dogs.