Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) are laws put into place targeted at certain types of dogs. Some of these restrictions ban people who live in that municipality from owning specific breeds of dogs while others require owners of certain breeds to have their pets sterilized when living within that municipality. The majority of BSLs are instituted at the local level (county and/or city).
In the United States, there are over 600 cities which have BSL. Cities with these restrictions include a wide range of locations fromlarger cities like Kansas City, MO, Miami, FL and Cincinnati , OH to small rural communities. These pieces of legislation typically impact owners of the American Pit Bull Terrier, German Shepherd, Rottweiler or Chow Chow dog breeds. However, some BSL restrictions regarding sterilization apply to other breeds, such as Chihuahuas, in areas where there is a high overpopulation of that breed in local shelters. The good news is that many states have passed laws that prohibit local municipalities from passing BSL.
Today some cities have started to repeal their BSL based on evidence that shows alternatives to these types of restrictions. These cities have learned, what many animal advocates already know, that specific breeds are not to blame for these problems. Education is the key to eliminate BSL across the country.
Instead of banning a particular dog breed, municipalities can enact vicious dog ordinances that hold owners responsible for their dog’s behavior irrespective of the animal’s breed. These dog owners can be fined for the behavior of their animal or even receive an order to surrender a particularly vicious dog. In addition, stricter leash laws that are better enforced ensure that dogs are not loose and are not be a potential threat to the public. Other alternatives include the institution of low-cost spay/neuter programs and the regulation of dog breeders, both of which help reduce the number of unwanted dogs.