Banned Breeds: A State by State Guide (2024)
Navigating the maze of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in the United States can be daunting. These laws, varying significantly by state and municipality, target certain dog breeds in the name of public safety. The topic is polarizing, striking a chord with pet parents concerned about the implications for their furry family members.
This guide aims to demystify BSL, offering an in-depth look at where and how it's implemented. From understanding the basics of breed-specific laws to exploring the states with active legislation and those championing more inclusive approaches, we'll provide the clarity needed for responsible pet parenting in the face of these complex regulations.
What Is Breed Specific Legislation?
BSL refers to laws that restrict or outright ban the ownership of certain dog breeds deemed a higher risk for aggression or danger. The list of commonly targeted breeds includes:
- Pit Bull
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Belgian Malinois
- Dogo Argentino
- Doberman Pinscher
- Cane Corso
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan Malamute
- Siberian Husky
- Presa Canario
- Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Wolf Hybrids
- American Bulldog
- Chow Chow
These breeds often face restrictions or bans due to perceptions about their temperament and physical capabilities.
BSL first came into being in the early 1980s after several fatalities occurred following attacks committed by dogs. The goal behind this legislation is to enhance public safety, but its effectiveness and fairness are subjects of ongoing debate.
Key BSL Terms
When it comes to conversations about BSL, it's vital to be familiar with a few key terms:
- BSL (Breed Specific Legislation): Laws targeting specific breeds for restrictions or bans.
- BDL (Breed Discriminatory Legislation): Another term for BSL, emphasizing its discriminatory aspect.
- APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier): A breed frequently affected by BSL.
- HB (House Bill)/SB (Senate Bill): Proposed legislation in the lower/upper houses of a legislative body.
- Grandfather Clause: Allows pre-existing local laws to continue even after new state-level BSL bans.
- Home Rule Exception: Enables municipalities to enact their own laws, even if state-level legislation exists.
Understanding these terms is crucial for pet parents to deal with the legal landscape surrounding BSL and advocate for fair and effective animal control policies.
Bans vs. Restrictions
BSL can manifest as outright bans or specific restrictions aimed at mitigating potential risks. Common restrictions under BSL include:
- Muzzling the dog while in public
- Spaying or neutering the dog
- Containing the dog in a specified kennel with predetermined features such as concrete floors and chain-link walls
- Keeping the dog on a leash of a predetermined size
- Purchasing liability insurance of a predetermined amount
- Hanging “vicious dog” signs at the place of residence
- Having the dog wear a “vision dog” tag or identifying marker
These measures are intended to promote public safety while allowing pet parents to maintain ownership of their pets under controlled conditions.
States With BSL or No Prohibiting Legislation
BSL is a reality in several states, either because specific legislation is in place or because there's no state law preventing municipalities from enacting their own breed-specific rules. Here's a snapshot of where BSL exists or is permitted due to a lack of prohibitory legislation:
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
- District of Columbia
States Without Active Breed-Specific Legislation
Conversely, a number of states have taken a stand against BSL, opting for laws that apply uniformly to all dog breeds. Here's a current list of these states:
- South Dakota
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
The landscape of BSL is further complicated by states that, while generally opposing breed-specific laws, allow for certain exceptions. These might include grandfathered ordinances or specific conditions under which local governments can enact their own rules. Here's a list of states where exceptional circumstances apply:
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New York
In these states, the approach to BSL can be particularly complex, with state-level prohibitions coexisting with local exceptions. This highlights the need to understand both state laws and local city and county ordinances.
What's Next in Navigating Breed-Specific Legislation?
For the most up-to-date information on breed specific legislation, we recommend the BSL Census, which is continually updated with news and notifications, including repeals and implementation of breed specific legislation.