Great news: On Tuesday, voters in Springfield (MO) rejected a ban on “pitbull-type” dogs by a landslide with over 68% voting against the proposed ban. While the vote is a strong win against breed discrimination, ineffective policies, and junk science - it also validates a growing national trend against all forms of breed-specific legislation (BSL) including breed-based bans. Furthermore, the vote aligns with a recent national survey where 84% of Americans polled were against breed-specific bans of any kind. Below, we summarize the decaying state of BSL in the U.S. and abroad. Congratulations to the voters of Springfield and a big thanks to "Springfield Citizens Against BSL" that lead the successful campaign against BSL and breed discrimination in Springfield!
The decaying state of BSL in the U.S. and abroad:
We could easily add more evidence of the decaying state of BSL to the list above, but the overall conclusion is clear and simple: BSL and breed-based bans are being challenged, repealed, voted down, and are becoming increasingly unpopular with citizens and voters all across the U.S. and abroad. Politicians and public officials who support BSL should consider themselves on notice - while there is a fringe but vocal minority that support breed discrimination, it's becoming evident that the majority of citizens are against invasive, ineffective, and discriminatory policies such as BSL and instead support more sensible breed-neutral policies that address relevant factors such as irresponsible ownership and/or a dog's behavior. Although there is still a lot of advocacy, education, and work to be done to combat breed discrimination and to eradicate BSL, the tide (and the majority) is slowly but surely turning against BSL and discriminatory appearance-based bans.
Enacting any ban based on stereotypes and junk science, instead of on peer-reviewed facts and expert information, is quite frankly an abuse of public policy and resources ... imagine if other bans were enacted using similar unsound standards. Dog bite incidents are a serious issue and comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the most effective solution because they address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible dog owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations ... regardless of a dog's appearance or breed.
Since only 2016, at least 24 different breeds and mixed breeds have been implicated in fatal dog attacks (listed in Table 1 below) including: Akita, Belgian Malinois, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, English Mastiff, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Husky, Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, and others. While every dog bite-related fatality is tragic, the number and variety of breeds involved in fatal attacks is clear evidence that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. The fact that many people are only aware of incidents associated with "pitbull-type" dogs is unfortunately a strong indication of media bias when reporting serious dog bite incidents. Not only is it irresponsible for the media to cherry-pick and emphasize some incidents over others (based on the breed involved) because it feeds myths, stereotypes, and misinformation - but it can also lead to poor public safety policy decisions such as breed-specific legislation (BSL) which multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded is ineffective.
The dog bite-related incident data for January/2016 through June/2018 fully debunks the myth that serious dog bite-related incidents are only associated with pitbull-type dogs - while also confirming that:
Table 1: Breeds involved in fatal dog attacks between January/2016 and June/2018 include:
(in alphabetical order, references to news sources with breed information provided in Table 2 below)
Table 2: News source references for breeds listed in Table 1:
(excluding pitbull-type dogs, see "Notes" below)
The data, scientific studies, and risk rates clearly show that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. For canine regulation, it is important to understand the differences between the two major types of regulation - Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and Breed Neutral Legislation (BNL). BSL is a limited, single-factor, appearance-based approach while BNL is a comprehensive, multifactorial, behavior-based approach. For public safety, BSL imposes regulations on a minority of dogs based only on their appearance (regardless of a dog's behavior or responsible ownership) while breed-neutral regulations address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. Consequently, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is ineffective; furthermore, it is a discriminatory trend in decline evidenced by the vast majority (98%) of cities and towns that use breed-neutral regulations as their primary and only form of regulation because of the many advantages of breed-neutral regulations summarized on our Breed Legislation page.
Breed specific ordinances have proven ineffective in reducing the ... number of dog bites. Breed Specific Legislation ... has generally been discredited in actual experience of cities, professionals and academic research as being both ineffective and expensive
The term "pit bull" is not a breed. Historically, it was an informal and slang term that was used to describe any dog that was used for the cruel sport of "bull baiting" (using dogs to seize tethered animals such as bulls within an enclosed area called a "pit"). While many different breeds were used for this sport, dogs that resemble today's bully breeds were commonly used - it was not an activity limited to today's "pitbull-type" breeds. Furthermore, baiting is not an inherent trait for any breed, it is an activity that must be taught and honed (no different than teaching a dog to sit or fetch). Today, the term "pit bull" is a generic term used to describe a type (or category) of dog based only on its physical appearance (not on genetics or lineage) - just like a German Shepherd is one breed of many unique "shepherds" or "shepherd-type" breeds. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the only formal breed with the term "pit bull" in its name, but it is only one of several breeds that make up the pitbull-type category. Below, we provide a short summary of the history of pitbull-type dogs and list the four AKC/UKC breeds that are widely recognized as pitbull-type breeds.
The history of pitbull-type dogs:
Pitbull-type dogs are a crossbreed between a bulldog and a terrier originally bred in England in the early 19th century (then called "Bull and Terriers") to be working dogs on farms to herd, protect, and manage livestock. While their early history is complex and includes herding cattle and protecting homesteads, it also unfortunately includes the cruel sports of "bull baiting" and dog fighting. However, these "sports" were not specific to today's pitbull-type breeds - many different breeds were subjected to these activities which are now illegal almost everywhere. During the 20th century, pitbull-type dogs quickly became one of America's most popular family dogs to the extent that they became national mascots and were used on recruitment posters for World Wars 1 & 2 and were called "America's dog". More recently, their popularity has continued to grow to an estimated 20% of the total dog population in the U.S. (all pitbull-type breeds and mixes combined) and are successful as service dogs, as therapy dogs, as K9 police dogs, as family pets, and consistently achieve excellent temperament scores.
The 4 AKC/UKC breeds that are widely recognized as the "pitbull-type" breeds:
The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is the tallest and most athletic of the four pitbull-type breeds. The American Staffordshire Terrier is slightly shorter and stockier than the APBT. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is easily the smallest of the four. The American Bully is the most unique of the group as it is the most stout and resembles the classic Bulldog breed. Our Breeds & Pictures page has more pictures and information about the pitbull-type breeds.
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!
Shattering stereotypes: Meet Aladdin, a pitbull-type dog who suffered abuse and neglect but went on to become a certified therapy dog after his new mom showed him a little love. In this short video, watch how Aladdin undergoes an amazing transformation from his abusive beginnings to winning the Therapy Dog of the Year award by the American Humane Association - yet another example of the exceptional temperament and goodness inherent in pitbull-type dogs. A big thanks to Pittie Nation for sharing Aladdin's story and American Humane for recognizing his potential.
Hello from the two-legged and four-legged team at Pitbullinfo.org! This month we're celebrating our one year anniversary - we started our mission last June and only a year later, we have over 19K Facebook likes, over 800K unique visitors to our website, and we've been referenced in a number of articles. We want to extend a big thanks to all of our followers and supporters for helping to spread the facts about "pitbull-type" dogs by liking and sharing our Facebook posts and our website. To continue to support our mission of combating breed stereotypes and misinformation, we don't ask for donations - instead, you can support us by simply sharing our Facebook posts and our website whenever you can.
Great news: Two pitbull-type dogs have made it to the semifinalist round for the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards! The American Humane Hero Dog Awards® is an annual campaign that "recognizes heroes on both ends of the leash". The fact that numerous pitbull-type dogs were nominees and that two made it to the semifinalist round is important because it illustrates how breed stereotypes are wrong while at the same time, showcasing how pitbull-type dogs (like all dogs) can be beneficial companions, successful working dogs, and loving family members. Congratulations to Kano for making it to the semifinalist round in the law enforcement category and Roxy for making it to the semifinalist round in the service dog category! Use the links below to vote for them - it's easy and you can vote for one dog in each category per day until July 11th.
Category - Law Enforcement:
Category - Service:
All other semifinalists and categories: https://herodogawards.org/vote/
We are especially excited about Kano because he is also busting breed stereotypes as a successful K9 officer and exemplifying the excellent temperament and trainability that is inherent in pitbull-type dogs.
A big thanks to American Humane and Animal Farm Foundation for all of the work that they do to support, champion, and advocate for pitbull-type dogs!
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
Meet Bones, a pitbull-type dog adopted from a shelter that quickly learned how to help his human dad, a U.S. veteran, with his PTSD. Now a service dog, Bones is yet another example of the excellent temperament, trainability, and inherent goodness in pitbull-type dogs. In this short but very heart warming video, watch how Bones and his dad rescue each other and build an amazing and unbreakable bond. A big thanks to The Dodo's Pittie Nation for showcasing this beautiful story.
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.
Blog & News
Insight, news, and analysis on issues and topics relevant to pitbull-type dogs.