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Breed Specific Legislation: Unconstitutional or Not?

Updated on April 12, 2012

What is BSL?

Breed Specific Legislature, or BSL for short, are laws and ordinances which pertain to a specific breed or breeds of dogs. They are put in place by governments, usually local, to either prevent people from owning certain dogs in that area or make it more difficult for people to own those dogs.

The Center for Disease Control had decided that backing Breed Specific laws was not the solution to dog bites. They have stated that it is difficult to calculate statistics of specific dog breeds when it comes to bites because many go unreported and many people don't know exactly what type of dog bit them. To get an accurate count, DNA testing would need to be done on every dog involved in a bite incident. The CDC also indicated that regulating one particular breed would only shift people's focus onto another breed. The threats of vicious dogs biting wouldn't be lessened by the laws. In fact, its been studied and many researchers have deemed that breed specific laws don't actually accomplish anything other then spending government funds.

Unconstitutional Pet Laws

Breed Specific laws effect more then just the average pet owner. With the Americans with Disabilities Act people can legally have service dogs to assist them with daily life. These dogs are not pets, they are workers. Local breed laws are now intruding on ADA laws. The ADA specifies that any breed of dog can be a service dog, the dog a person chooses is based on their personal needs. If properly trained any dog can be a great service animal. However, laws banning breeds don't care if the animal is a service dog, they will still attempt to remove the dog and have it euthanized because of its breed. This is unconstitutional. These laws discriminate against people with disabilities by regulating what types or breeds of dogs a person is allowed to use.

Denver, Colorado is great example of unconstitutional laws being used. The city put in place a ban on American Pit Bull Terriers with no stipulation on service animals. Residents in Colorado were forced to hide their pets because if the pet enforcement team was to find the pit bulls they would remove them from the residence and have proceed to have the dog euthanized without concern for the person/owner. This is a clear violation of ADA laws which are federal laws, that means local laws and ordinances can not be made to go against those laws.


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    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Informative concise hub, very sad that these laws are still getting past.

    • profile image

      Angela 5 years ago

      I had an American Pit Bull for almost 13 years. I never ever thought for a split second that she would ever hurt anyone. She was raised with all of my kids and never even growled at them. We need to get tough on BAD OWNERS!! Don't take your ignorance of a breed out on the animal!! The local governments need to get Educated on the breed because not all Pit Bulls are aggressive. Some are your Best Friend and COMPLETELY HARMLESS!!!

    • peterelmhirst profile image

      Peter E 5 years ago from Toronto

      The problem with dogs is that breeding is controlled and therefore has an outcome on the dog. Just like with humans, some dogs are more aggressive than others and while much of it is environmental factors, some of it can also be hereditary hormonal issues due to hormonal issues in their parents, inbreeding, etc. If you breed with a purpose (ie. guard dog, fight dogs, etc.) then you can produce a dog who's far more likely to have dangerous uncontrolled outbursts. People against breed specific legislation always seem to deny this is true, but it's genetics.

      All that being said, I am against breed specific legislation and while it's possible, I don't believe there are enough breeders who are breeding incorrectly to pollute the gene pool of an entire breed. If we outlaw breeding specific breeds however and the only breeders for that type of dog are uncontrolled, likely unprofessional, and drawing from a limited pool of studs then these issues will only become more and more likely to happen within a certain breed. We need tougher laws against bad owners, not bad dogs.

    • profile image

      TeamPitAFull 5 years ago

      This article pretty much so nails it when defining what BSL is, what it is not, and its continuing failure as a means to public safety. Check out and the event "Pedal for Paws: Breed Discrimination STOPS With Me! coming in fall 2012 (Facebook)

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 5 years ago from New York

      People have plenty of qualms with breed specific legislation, and I ask those that do to support anti-species specific legislation as well.