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America Against Breed Specific Legislation

Position Statements

prepared by Jennifer Thomas

Position Statements on BSL

from Major Animal Organizations
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
 American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
National Animal Control Association (NACA)

American Humane
American Kennel Club (AKC)
National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)

Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)
American Dog Owners Association (ADOA)

National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA)

International Assocation of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)


Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

(click above for direct link)

"HSUS Statement on Dangerous Dogs and Breed-Specific Legislation

The HSUS opposes legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed for a number of reasons. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a common first approach that many communities take. Thankfully, once research is conducted most community leaders correctly realize that BSL won't solve the problems they face with dangerous dogs..." Read entire text here.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

(click above for direct link)

The ASPCA does not have a formal position statement on BSL. However, they work actively against it, while supporting stronger non-breed-specific dangerous dog laws. They encourage their members to vote against BSL. They provide information on alternatives to BSL on their site in the article "Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?" (.pdf)

AVMA Position on Dangerous Animal Legislation
(click above for direct link)

"(Approved by the AVMA Executive Board, 1988)

The AVMA supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals. This legislation should be directed at fostering safety and protection of the general public from animals classified as dangerous."

 National Animal Control Association Policy Statement

(click above for direct link)

"Extended Animal Control Concerns - Dangerous/Vicious Animals

Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.

Any animal may exhibit aggressive behavior regard-less of breed. Accurately identifying a specific animal's lineage for prosecution purposes may be extremely difficult. Additionally, breed specific legislation may create an undue burden to owners who otherwise have demonstrated proper pet management and responsibility.

Agencies should encourage enactment and stringent enforcement of dangerous/vicious dog laws. When applicable, agencies should not hesitate to prosecute owners for murder, manslaughter, or similar violations resulting from their animal's actions, and their owner lack of responsibility. Laws should clearly define "dangerous" or "vicious", and provide for established penalties. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, and/or the relinquishing of total privileges to pet ownership. If a dangerous/vicious animal is allowed to be kept, laws should specify methods of secure confinement and control. A dangerous/vicious animal when kept outside should be confined in an escape-proof enclosure which is locked and secured on all six sides. Signs should be posted at property entrances and be visible from the nearest sidewalk or street. The licensing record could include a notation which will immediately identify an animal which has been deemed dangerous or vicious.

Reviewed/Revised by the NACA Corporate Office - 09/17/02 " American Humane
(click above for direct link)

"Statement on Vicious/Dangerous Dog Laws and Breed-Specific Legislation

American Humane recognizes that public safety is a concern with regard to dogs that have been determined to be dangerous or vicious. American Humane supports local legislation to protect the community from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target a specific breed of dog. American Humane encourages communities to hold pet owners responsible for the actions of the animals in their care.

Communities may elect to adopt "dangerous" or "vicious" dog laws to help protect their constituents. Such laws may stipulate harsher restrictions on these dogs such as housing requirements, fencing, leash length restrictions, muzzles, posted warning signs, sterilization, additional licensing, behavior training, and liability insurance requirements. Additional stipulations may include harsher penalties and restrictions for violating the ordinances in place. Communities considering institution of such requirements should consider the additional financial implications and support for enforcement by animal control officers. American Humane encourages communities to educate the public, especially children, on dog behavior and what they can do to protect themselves against an attack.

Vicious or dangerous dogs tend to be, by definition, dogs that without provocation, have attacked or behaved in a terrorizing manner and/or have been trained for or used for animal fighting. Any dog, whether previously labeled as vicious or not, that has attacked humans or domestic animals may be euthanized when local laws and jurisprudence are followed. The owner should be given a period of time and process by which to appeal.

American Humane understands that any breed of dog can bite, and as such, believes that breed-specific legislation does not effectively protect the community from dangerous animals. Conversely, not all dogs of a given breed are dangerous. Legislation banning particular breeds can unnecessarily discriminate against dogs that are not dangerous, and does little to protect the community from dog bite incidents. Such legislation can often have unintended consequences such as spawning black market interest, indiscriminant breeding practices, and subsequent overpopulation issues. Additionally, there can be confusion when dealing with "mixed-breed" dogs, which can make legislation difficult to enforce. Therefore, American Humane supports local legislation to protect the community from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target a specific breed of dog.

Revised 2002

 American Kennel Club Position Statement

(click above for direct link)

"“Dangerous Dog” Control Legislation

The American Kennel Club supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. The AKC believes that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. We believe that, if necessary, dogs proven to be "dangerous" may need to be humanely destroyed. The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be "dangerous" based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs."

 National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors

(click above for direct link)

"Regarding breed-specific legislation

The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, Inc. (NADOI) strongly opposes breed specific legislation which targets or discriminates against certain dogs based only on their breed or appearance. Such laws are unfair because they assume that a dog may be dangerous simply because of breed. In fact, it is almost always the behavior of the owners of these dogs which makes them a danger to others.

Since 1965, NADOI has worked to help people train their dogs to be well behaved. Also, NADOI educates dog owners about their responsibility not only to their dogs but to their communities. Ordinances against dangerous dogs, unattended and loose dogs, nuisance barking, and other objectionable dog behaviors should be enacted and aggressively enforced. These laws, unlike breed specific laws, force all dog owners to be responsible for the behavior of their dogs.

Approved by the Board of Directors, June 2004."

 Association of Pet Dog Trainers

(click above for direct link)

"The following statements reflect the opinion of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

The Association of Pet dog Trainers (APDT) supports the adoption or enforcement of a program for the control of potentially dangerous or vicious dogs that is fair, non-discriminatory and addresses dogs that are shown to be dangerous by their actions.

The APDT opposes any law that deems a dog as dangerous or vicious based on appearance, breed or phenotype. Canine temperaments are widely varied, and behavior cannot be predicted by physical features such as head shape, coat length, muscle to bone ratio, etc. The only predictor of behavior is behavior.

As an organization comprised of dog trainers, behaviorists and other animal professionals, the APDT is fully aware that any dog can bite, any dog can maim, and any dog can kill. A dangerous or vicious dog is a product of a combination of individual genetics, upbringing, socialization, and lack of proper training. The solution to preventing dog bites is education of owners, breeders, and the general public about aggression prevention, not legislation directed at certain breeds.

Singling out and publicly demonizing certain breeds as dangerous is unfair, discriminatory, and does an immense disservice to those breeds and the people who care about them. Even more chilling, breed specific legislation encourages the faulty public perception of other breeds as being inherently safe. This can lead misguided individuals to engage in unsafe conduct with other breeds that can result in injury or death by individual representatives of those breeds mistakenly perceived as safe. Also, designating certain breeds as inherently dangerous implies to the public that behavior is not effectively influenced, positively or negatively, by training. This misconception will likely produce a growing number of dangerous dogs as misinformed, complacent dog owners fail to practice responsible aggression-prevention measures. "

 American Dog Owners Association

(click above for direct link)

"Breed Specific Policy

The American Dog Owners Association opposes legislation that discriminates against specific breeds or phenotype classes of dogs, or creates restrictions that in fact make a law breed specific. "

National Animal Interest Alliance
(click above for direct link)

Position Statement

"NAIA supports reasonable laws to protect the public from dangerous dogs and opposes breed-specific legislation in any form. Breed-specific laws target good dogs and responsible animal owners along with the bad.

Unfortunately, sensational media coverage and misleading claims of canine super strength and cunning of some breeds of dogs, especially the bull-and-terrier breeds and crossbreeds, have manipulated public opinion. These factors often lead to limits on breeding and owning certain types of dogs despite the fact that many individual dogs fitting the description are beloved family pets or valuable working partners. Restrictions from outright bans to requirements for confinement, insurance, and spay and neuter often follow incidents in which a breed and its crosses are implicated in aggressive incidents or dog fighting or other criminal activity. Such limits cause the death of many well-behaved pets and rob law-abiding pet owners of their rights to choose a breed or mix and responsibly own or maintain a pet or working dog without government interference.

NAIA supports nuisance ordinances and dangerous dog laws to protect the community against unruly or dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners. NAIA supports sentences for violation of dog confinement and nuisance laws that include mandatory attendance at a basic obedience training class. AKC dog obedience clubs have provided such classes for the general public for decades and, together with private trainers, they represent a well-established community resource for courts dealing with dog-related offenses. "

 International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

(click above for direct link)

"Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation:

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) is an organization representing professional animal trainers and animal behavior specialists. The IAABC strongly opposes any legislation specifically designed to target or discriminate against dogs based solely on their breed or appearance. The IAABC does not believe that a dog poses a danger to society solely because of its breed. Dogs can become dangerous as a result of faulty socialization, inappropriate training, poor living conditions and other factors having nothing to do with their breed. The IAABC believes that the objectives behind breed specific legislation can be met more effectively through rigorous enforcement and, where necessary, the strengthening of existing laws. We fully understand and support the need for laws to protect society, human and animal alike; however, our organization feels that any new legislation should be based on specific behaviors or actions and should not discriminate based on breed alone.

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