Across the country, entire communities ban or restrict dogs because of their breed or perceived breed. The HSUS opposes such public policies as inhumane and ineffective. There is no evidence that breed-specific laws reduce dog bites or attacks on people and they divert resources from more effective animal control and public safety initiatives.
Breed-based policies are based on myths and misinformation, rather than science or credible data. Their impact on dogs, families and animal shelters, however, is heartbreakingly real. Learn the truth about breed bans and help your community become a place where dogs aren’t judged by their looks, but by their behavior.
Bad laws have high costs
Breed bans and restrictions force dogs out of homes and into shelters, taking up kennel space and resources that could be used for animals who are truly homeless. Underfunded animal control agencies bear the burden of enforcing the laws and are often called on to decide, based on looks alone, whether a dog belongs to a certain breed. Battles erupt between dog owners and local agencies—and often continue to the courts—costing the community resources that could have been spent on effective, breed-neutral dog laws and enforcement.
Some banned breeds, like German shepherds and pit bull-types, are among the most popular dogs in the U.S., reflecting just how out of touch these policies are. Many animal shelters are flooded with dogs who, because of breed bans, can’t be adopted to the people in their communities. Shelters in neighboring cities and counties often end up taking in the dogs.
Complicating the issue of breed bans and restrictions is the fact that about half the estimated 80 million American pet dogs are mixed breeds. Through canine genetic testing, studies have found that even people in animal-related professions can’t accurately identify the breeds in a mixed-breed dog’s genealogy. Tragically, breed-biased laws have caused the deaths of countless dogs whose only crime was to resemble a certain breed.
Breed bans don’t make sense
Experts have found that no breed is more likely to bite than another. The AVMA, the National Animal Control Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention oppose breed-specific legislation (BSL), along with leading animal welfare organizations.
Fortunately, more people and their elected officials are learning why breed bans don’t make sense, and BSL is on the decline. In recent years, 21 states have passed laws prohibiting BSL on the local level and over 100 municipalities have replaced BSL with breed-neutral policies. Repealing BSL has not resulted in more dog bites in these communities. In fact, after Ohio repealed its statewide breed-based law, State Farm Insurance reported a decrease in dog-related claims in the state.
The Repealing Breed-Specific Legislation toolkit was developed to help increase dialogue among advocates and address harmful breed-based laws. It provides comprehensive information, giving you the confidence to challenge BSL in your community, making it a safer place for both dogs and people.