Why Breed Specific Legislation Misses the Mark and Doesn't Work


Somewhere along the way, bully breeds got an undeserved bad rap. Few breeds bond as closely with their human companions as the playful pit; few demonstrate so much unreserved love and affection. It's fair to say no breed surpasses them in these qualities.

On temperament tests administered by a variety of organizations, the American Pit Bull Terrier consistently scores in the top five of all breeds. Pit bulls are more likely to excel at obedience and agility than guarding and Schutzhund tests. Yet, somehow they gained the reputation as dangerous dogs, and now they find themselves threatened by Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) with the goal to eventually wipe the entire type from the face of the earth.

What is Breed Specific Legislation?

In case you haven't heard of Breed Specific Legislation, the term refers to any law designed to regulate or outlaw specific breeds or types of dogs. These laws have been passed in places ranging from small towns to entire countries. The most commonly affected dogs include pit bull types, Rottweilers, GSDs, Dobermans, Chows and occasionally some or all Mastiff types.

Usually, BSL prohibits breeding or importing the canines in question, with the goal of letting all dogs of the specified type eventually die out through natural attrition. Existing dogs must be muzzled whenever they are out in public. Sometimes their collars must be specific colors, and their homes or yards must display "Beware, Dangerous Dog" signs, without regard to whether the animal in question poses any actual threat.

In a few places, these laws go even further, mandating euthanasia of animals that fall under the scope of the legislation. Such a requirement forces affected dog owners to either give up their companions, move, or hide their canines and live in constant fear.

What Does BSL Accomplish?

While the current demonization of pits is completely unjust, BSL is a dreadful idea no matter which breeds are targeted. Punishing the multitudes for the actions of the physically similar few seems like a poor basis for any law, and the grotesque unfairness to the vast majority of good-tempered, well-behaved canines that make up all breeds (not to mention the responsible owners of these dogs) should offend the sensibility of any fair-minded person.

In addition, these laws fail at their stated purpose of improving public safety. According to study after study, they reduce neither the number of dog bites, nor the incidence of fatal attacks from canines.

In the UK, dog bites actually increased 50% in the decade following the passage of the Dangerous Dog Act in 1997, which banned all "pit bull types" and three other breeds. In the first five years after Spain passed its Dangerous Animals Act in 2000, which covered 9 types of dogs, dog bite statistics remained unchanged. And in Prince George's County, Maryland, a task force convened to study the effects of the county's BSL found that while the new law cost taxpayers $250,0000 a year, there was no positive effect on public safety.

However, animal control officers spent so much time responding to reported pit bull sightings that they lacked resources to adequately respond to other types of violations. The task force recommended the law be rescinded.

Perhaps these examples explain why organizations such as the Center for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the National Animal Control Association all oppose Breed Specific Legislation.

Better Alternatives

There are better, fairer ways to prevent and reduce dog attacks than to blame entire breeds. The first is to control the human element. The single greatest predictor of a dog causing serious injury is an abusive or neglectful home (present in 85% of all such attacks).

Statutes such as California's, which makes pet owners fully liable for the actions of their animal, along with tougher and more rigorously enforced animal cruelty laws, seem much less likely to hurt the innocent, and much more likely to improve public safety.

In short, BSL is just another short-sighted and ineffective government mandate, whose only purpose is to attract votes by "doing something".  It offers nothing else.  To learn more, you can visit StopBSL.com.

Login or Register to post comments.



pitbulldadAZ's picture
Sat, 07/10/2010 - 10:08pm

BSL is especially unconscionable when most public official (Elected/ LE and Animal Control) can't tell you difference between Pit Bulls and other NON-related breeds.

I especially love PIT BULL attacks that are ultimately discerned to have been done by Labs, those just make my Marine Corps Day!
The mayor of my town lives 5 -6 doors down from me, he's a retired Fire Chief and quite vocal about his likes and hates (rather than dislikes) especially things that he know crappola about like Pit Bulls / Bullies in particular.

When I first rescued Flash (APBT), he would get out to go meet the neighbors. The Mayor's house (before he got elected as Mayor) with his Lab and Retriever was a prime target to go play. I would go after Flash and the man would help me corral the dog. About the 3rd time (Flash got his name for being so darn fast), the man pops off and asks what type of dog Flash is; I, knowing that he was less than thrilled about teenagers (I had 1 teen in-house), decided to downplay Flash's ethnicity. I told him that Flash was a terrier cross (my hackles had gone up as the man had been drinking heavily already) where upon this cracker tells me, "That's good. If it was one of those damned Pit Bulls, I would have gotten my shotgun and shot him in the face." All the while, he is stroking Flash behind the ears and Flash is trying to lick the man's arm.

I wasn't able to raise enough awareness before he was elected as Mayor about his Neanderthal attitudes but he has done QUITE well at doing so himself in a community that doesn't have too much trust for those under 50 YO.

Now that my dad has retired, I am hoping that HE will run against the incumbent Mayor or run for town council this term, he's a reformed Pittie hater (that's another story for another day).

kndra18's picture
Sun, 11/21/2010 - 5:56pm

"cracker".... seriously?

Tonya Dean's picture
Tonya Dean
Mon, 07/12/2010 - 8:43pm

BSL is discrimnation....my pit is better socialized than most dogs. I often walk my pit and poodles together just to watch the crazy looks we get. As an owner of a pitbull, you must always be a good ambassador to the breed. Bully likes to get his picture taken with people who meet him on walks and can't believe this affectionate wiggle-butt is an infamous pitbull!

chic_pr's picture
Sat, 10/30/2010 - 11:55pm

I walk my 40 lb 6 month old chocolate pit with my 4 lb white maltese and everyone in the neighborhood points and smiles. When my maltese barks at everyone going by, as my pit calmly keeps strolling, I jokingly say, "watch out for my vicious dog!"

shannon.reese's picture
Fri, 07/23/2010 - 3:06pm

This is just wrong in every way. This is like saying we should ban Chihuahuas because they attack too. I can't believe this BS. My APBT is in training to be a service dog (something I was forced into by the association at my apartments) or I was told to move from my apartment complex. I just don't understand the hatred towards the Bully Breeds. Makes me want to cry. When I take little Darla out for walks she gets so much attention from everyone and she just wants to walk up to everyone and give them kisses and snuggle. Other people are appalled because she is a "pitbull". Makes me so angry.

VickieMiller24's picture
Sun, 10/31/2010 - 12:35am

That happens to me too. Most people love her and can't believe she just lays there and lets kids crawl all over her. But, then theres that one person who ruins our day by making ignorant comments like..." get that pit bull out of here, I don't want any dog mallings" How ridiculous. My maltese is the one that bites. And barks and raises cain. Not the pit. Shes calm and loves to exercise and go for walks.

Sat, 07/24/2010 - 1:19am

tell me about it my bullies are the same way, but if try to hurt them when i tell you yes you can pat my bullies it really pmo because they try to test her,but she will bark at them when they go to far ,a little warning you know nothin more,hate when people walk to the other side of the side walk,it's not like she is going to jump them please give me a break,get a life,learn more about bullies,stop actin like an assh

Lynn Pilanen's picture
Lynn Pilanen
Mon, 08/09/2010 - 11:06am

I still have the mark from a dog that bit me, the fang marks are still on my neck. It was a Setter should this breed be banned? I have been attacked by Toy Poodles should this breed be looked at as bad pet? My pit Honey lived up to her name. My pit Brandy I tell him to make fiends, he does.
My toy fox terrier Romeo (now dead) was the most aggressive of all of the dogs I ever had. Trust me I had alot of dogs over the years.
The pits have been the most loving, of all breeds I have had. I will not list all the breeds there is not enough space.
A dog will attack out of fear, show your pit love, take things slow, Pitbulls are smart they can learn anything.If they been abused it takes longer for any dog to over come abuse.
How would feel after being hit with a cattle prong? Would you trust?
How about starved, to make you mean? It would work for me, I am hungry get out of my way.
Save a pit today visit a local Shelter or rescue, you will not recret it.

ahanson's picture
Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:14pm

A pit bull was dumped out in the country at my friend's house. We all fell in love with that dog! He was the sweetest dog, and if you sat on the ground he was automatically sitting on your lap. He eventually got my friend's german shepherd pregnant. When the puppies were born and a day old, I was scoping out all the puppies and told my husband "I want that one." I fell in love with this dark brindle little girl.

My husband was getting ready to leave for basic training and I had no idea how I'd get away with having a dog at my parents' house when they already had 2 dogs. At first my parents weren't sure about me having a pit bull mix or letting one stay at their house. I'd bring her over to visit a few days a week to start working on her being housebroken. It didn't take her long to learn, even though she was predominately an outdoor farm dog at the time.

My parents eventually fell in love with her! But... my brother was the bigger problem. When he found out my dog of choice, he couldn't understand why I'd want a pitbull when I was wanting a family. He thought they were too dangerous and killers. It took my brother and his wife over a year to love my dog, Jacquelyn.

Jacquelyn was abused by her previous owners. Needless to say those people are no longer my friends. I figured out she was abused by the way she'd react when I'd disclipline her. I'd never harm her when I'd discipline her, I'd only scold her when I'd catch her in the act of doing something wrong. And she'd cower like I was going to beat her. It took me a long time to get her to understand nothing bad would ever happen to her. I tried every trick in the book to get her crate-trained, nothing worked. So I know she isn't cut out to be an apartment dog. My parents' next door neighbor has called animal control on my dog because she barks. What dog doesn't bark?!

My brother told my parents he'd never get a pit bull. He is now a reformed pit bull hater because he now loves them and is now an owner of a pit bull. He took in my dog, so his dog would have a playmate. I let him and his wife take her because she'd have a better life of never living in an apartment again, having better neighbors, and having a friend her size to play with every day.

My husband and I will rescue another pit someday. But in the meantime we both need to finish grieving over giving up Jacquelyn. We're both just glad it's like an open adoption where we still get to see her a few times a year, get pictures, and know she's in good hands.

El Gringo Salsero's picture
El Gringo Salsero
Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:01pm

One day, my Wally (an APBT) walked over to the fence between my property and my neighbor's. As luck would have it, the scotty from down the street was visiting my neighbor. While the scotty was barking up a storm, Wally went to say hi and then we all heard the attack. Every last one of us assumed that Wally had attacked the scotty, but we were wrong. My calm and supposedly breed-specific killer had been bitten through the face by the scotty and never retaliated in any way. Even the best of us can show some prejudice against pit bulls. And be sure, I didn't report the attack to the newspapers because I knew it wouldn't meet with their obvious agenda.

Rascaldog's picture
Sun, 10/31/2010 - 9:29am

What kills me the most about BSL is that they miss the mark entirely. Pitbulls are powerful dogs and can be incredibly solid. They don't have to bite you to hurt you, and this attracts several horrible types of people to them. They want dogs that look mean and are mean. If a dog isn't they either dump it or kill it out right. People who are ignorant and mean get pits just to neglect them on chains (which is thankfully illegal in my city). I have a little pit (mix?) that was abandoned in the backyard of a vacant house. She's so smart, she figured out how to open the gate and got out. After roaming the neighborhood she found me (she sure knows how to spot a sucker), and ran into my house and started playing with the German Shepard mix I had inherited from my father in law.

She has never shown any aggression to any animal or person. My love seat is the item that attracts her destructive tendencies, but only when my husband is alone with her. I use a head collar on her, because for a 35lb pup she has quite a bit of power and wants to meet everyone she sees without abandon. People ask me all the time because of the little black band over the back of the muzzle if she bites and backs away from her in fear. She stopped being mouthy within a couple of weeks of coming into my house.

I've had a golden retriever, a dalmatian (never again), and mutts of many different backgrounds and this is the first pit type dog I have ever owned. My uncle had a pit/lab mix who was the sweetest, most obedient dog I have ever met. People used to make me so mad when they badmouthed the breed because PEOPLE make them mean and aggressive. It breaks my heart to see a neglected dog, and i have honestly never met a pit that I'm afraid of.

Small dogs should be banned. I have met only a handful of sweet little dogs (my first dog included in that). They are louder, more aggressive, and meaner than almost every big dog I have ever come across. A chihuahua mix is the only dog I have ever witnessed draw blood and a toy poodle is the only type of dog to ever try and attack me, but because those dogs are easily overpowered, their aggression is overlooked.

My city has it right. They ban people from owning animals, not animals. It's a shame that the Federal government doesn't see it that way. Pits, akitas, and other breeds that are "violent status symbols" are banned, which I can partially understand to an extent because young GI's have an overwhelming desire to get big, mean looking dogs, but without a spouse at home there is rarely anyone to actually care for said powerful dog.

chic_pr's picture
Sun, 10/31/2010 - 1:59pm

I have to disagree with your statement saying that "small dogs should be banned". I own a 40 lb 6 month old pitbull and a 4 lb 7 yr old maltese. My pit is definately more of a bully, and if it weren't for the calm, tolerant temperament of my extremely well behaved maltese they might not get along. They are both great dogs. My pit is mostly just guilty of wanting to play too hard with the Maltese. We keep a close eye on them and limit their time together because they are still getting to know eachother. But definately my maltese is the sweetest dog in the world who doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body. She's not an "anklebiter".. which is just another stereotype for small dogs. Please, let's not label any kind of dog, either by size or breed, with generalities.

Wolverye's picture
Thu, 11/04/2010 - 11:13am

Pits are banned here in South Australia. I have to register Steven as an American Staffodshire. It doesn't make sense!

Vanilla's_Daddy's picture
Mon, 02/21/2011 - 12:01pm

It shows how ignorant legislators are.
Same dog but as long as you call it something else...
Wake up haters!

Kattvictoria's picture
Sat, 11/27/2010 - 12:41am

This is what I'm going through right now. I just moved into my apartment complex a month ago. Well a day before Thanksgiving they told me I have to give up my PitBull because she is under the breed restriction. And i only have 24hours to do it.
This dog is my life. She like my child.
I want to break my lease right now.
If I go up to them and say I want to move out, would they make me pay a loads of money to get out considering that I only moved in a month ago.
I'm not living without my dog. She's apart of me.
She's so amazing. She is very well trained. She has been socalized since day one from when I got her.
Has never even tried to bite anybody. When she goes up to somebody she crawls up to them before she lets them pet her.
I have been crying every single day, missing her like crazy. And I feel like there is nothing I can do..
I need some help I don't know what to do.
I don't want to lose my dog.

Noodle's picture
Sat, 01/15/2011 - 7:54pm

Get her registered as something else and show them the papers sayings that shes not a APBT. I had to do the same thing. Its crazy

VickieMiller24's picture
Sat, 11/27/2010 - 8:50pm

When my son wanted to adopt Archie, my Straffordshire Terriar, he put down that he lived in an apartment, well he does but behind my home. The adoption agency wasn't going to let him b/c they called the apartments in MWC, and pit bulls are banned! Strange b/c one of the girl at Pet Smart told me that that that Particular PET SMART was the last one that will groom or take Pit Bulls. You know I think I would have to move. And if they can't take you baby, then they can't have you. Their loss. I slso raise Malteses dogs they all love each other. They play together the pit bulls allow them to eat their food. Now tHATS STRANGE. Even the normal dog will at least growl.

Yaminpix's picture
Sat, 11/27/2010 - 11:26pm

DONT DO IT!!!! You love your dog, and your dog loves you! Listen, life is about being happy. If your dog makes you happy, keep her! It's just not worth it to give up a part of your life that's such a huge contributor to your happiness and well being. Not only yours, but hers! Forget people who ban dog breeds unjustifiably, they don't deserve your rent money or your time. I had to look around but I was able to find a place that let me have my pit bull. I just moved recently and I looked through alot of apartments before finding the one I'm in right now. I live here with my dog and I have become friends with the person who lives downstairs and has a rottweiler. We go for walks together and everything. I know it's hard but it's not impossible. Your moving into a new place, won't it be empty without your companion? I hope everything works out for you, and if for some reason you can't keep your friend, best of luck finding her a loving home and moving into your new place, hope all ends well for you, WERE ROOTING FOR YOU!


At the last place I lived, I just got up and left. I didn't pay them a dime. I didn't say anything either. I just got my stuff and left. ADIOS! You don't want my dog? You must not want my $$ either!


Breed Specific Legislation?
more like Bull S*it Legislation!

VickieMiller24's picture
Sun, 11/28/2010 - 8:54pm

agree there will be a empty spot in your heart if you let them tell you how you can live. Laws are there to protect us. But, Should the whole breed pay the price for a few bad ones.

BarbaraT's picture
Sat, 01/29/2011 - 2:16pm

FIRST and foremost.. BSL reflects on 34 breeds of Bull Terriers... They dont even know what makes a pitbull.....Some bull dog breeds are strong in resemblance to a Staffy, Kane Korsos, look the same. A bulldog lab mix can be misconceived...Think... what is a pitbull??? Nickname for one thing...all BSL does is take a loving pet away from a good home... Crack down on dog fighting, not taking a non aggressive pet from their home!!! 

BSL is not solving any issues...To them anything that looks to be a pitbull is a pitbull... 

what if you have an American Bulldog? they resemble A staffy....

In fact mix a staffy and a amer. Bulldog and then they say u have a large pitbull... Take a mastiff mixed with a bulldog you have a super pit!!

SO does BSL work... NO... Statistically is has not reduced the number of attacks at all...

BY THE WAY.... akitas have the most human attacks on record!!! NOT PITS