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How BSL is changing around the country

Updated on February 16, 2014

What is BSL?

BSL or Breed Specific Legislature is term that refers to laws that are in place that directly affect only one breed or one type of dog. BSL has been used for years in an attempt to reduce dog bites and attacks but only from dogs that are a certain breed or look a certain way. It does not pertain to all breeds of dogs and does nothing for victims of dog bites if they are bitten by any other breed that is not listed in the local laws.

Most laws that are this specific and towards a type of dog pertain to American Pit Bull Terriers and dogs that resemble the breed. However, some do include a few other breeds, the "bully" breeds.

Many cities and towns have put breed specific laws in place in hopes to eradicate "dangerous" type dogs. Although, the dogs are deemed dangerous based on looks and strength not on individual temperament.

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The alternative to BSL

Many groups, including American Humane Society, Center for Disease Control and the ASPCA have suggested many alternatives to breed specific laws that would be considerably more effective. Until recently most suggestions have been over looked or simply ignored because of statistics and looking only at reported incidences.

A few ideas that would help and show results would be enforced spay/neuter laws that would allow for breeders to keep their animals unaltered but make it more of an incentive for families to have their dogs fixed. Increased penalties for animal abuse, neglect and hold owners reasonable for their pets. And, enforce leash laws! These are three things that would improve the quality of life for many dogs, encourage owners to be more responsible and prevent bad owners from obtaining more dogs.


States that are making a difference

In the United States six states are working to get rid of breed specific laws across the board. Maryland, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Washington are looking to join the seventeen other states that prohibit any local government from making breed specific laws. Even the White House has released a statement in support of alternatives to BSL. Stating "research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources... As an alternative to breed-specific policies, the CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites. And ultimately, we think that’s a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners.”


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