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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

Exception Cases

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:

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.