Does Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) do More Harm than Good? 

Topics: Dog Breeds

Introduction: The National Canine Research Council (NCRC) defines breed-specific legislation as any law that prohibits or restricts the keeping of specific dog breeds, or mixes of breeds. Over 700 cities throughout the U.S. alone, have implemented BSL to improve the quality of life among community residents (ASPCA, 2018). However, there’s no scientific evidence that supports the idea that these laws make cities safer. BSL most commonly targets American Pit Bull Terriers but also targets a large variety of dog breeds including, Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and many others.

BSL punishes good dogs and responsible owners based on dog-biting or dog-fighting incidences involving specific breeds. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), any dog poses the risk to bite independent of its breed, age, and/or sex. The most common reasons for increased aggression in dogs include lack of socialization, refusal to sterilize, owner management/supervision or lack thereof, stress, fright, or feeling threatened (AMVA, 2018).

Changing breed-specific laws to hold humans more accountable for their dogs’ actions and increasing education, will not only benefit the city or state revenue but create a better community for city residents and impacted breeds along with their owners to live.

Procedure One: Enforcing Animal Protection and Accountability Laws Cities that enforce BSL risk losing incoming money from potential residents who own affected breeds, and risk causing conflict with current residents. Since BSL sometimes bans a particular breed from living within the community, prospective residents are forced to look elsewhere for a new home. This causes a loss of potential income from requirements such as registration fees and local taxes and impedes community growth.

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As current residents and responsible dog owners, they are faced with the decision to move to a new community without breed-specific laws or relinquish their pets to law enforcement to comply with local laws. This decision can cause disgruntled residents to move to neighboring cities, also resulting in loss of revenue or even causing families emotional repercussions due to the loss of family pets. Creating laws that hold dog owners financially and/or criminally responsible for damage or injuries caused by their dogs will increase local government revenue and result in owners being more attentive to their dogs’ behavior and training. Enforcement of accountability laws will increase revenue by fining dog owners who do not comply with local licensing laws, animal cruelty laws, and/or irresponsibly care for their dogs (lack of supervision, disregard for leash laws, etc.).

Increased fines from stricter law enforcement could allow communities to provide dog parks for socialization, more affordable access to spay and neuter resources, and result in an overall happier community for residents to reside safely with beloved pets. Procedure Two: Increasing Education As well as local government, financial loss, and stability impact local shelters due to high demands for euthanasia to reduce overcrowding of “legally unadoptable” breeds (Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, 2017). In research provided to Best Friends Animal Society in 2012, local shelters and veterinary clinics in the U.S. spent over $11 million on euthanasia and disposal to uphold BSL regulations (Dunham and associates, 2012). The money inherited from increased legal fees should be used to support local shelters. With the additional income, shelters could improve the quality of care for animals, promote adoption, and provide educational programs to the community. These shelter-sponsored classes could cover proper human-animal interaction, animal behavior classes, obedience training, and provide socialization training for dogs in need. Local shelters could utilize volunteers to teach these sponsored courses and apply attendance fees to limit inside spending. To educate children, who make up at least half of the country’s dog bite victims every year (AVMA, 2018), shelters could provide a course that instructs children on how to properly behave around familiar and unfamiliar dogs and recognize signs of aggression such as growling or snarling. To accommodate low-income families, shelters could hold free class times once a month, and hand out pamphlets at local veterinary clinics, pet stores, or pet-related functions.

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Does Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) do More Harm than Good? . (2022, Jun 28). Retrieved from

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