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Rejecting Breed-Specific Legislation: A Movement for Responsible Pet Ownership

The Debate Over Breed-Specific Legislation: What You Need to Know

Owners of so-called “bully breeds” have long faced stigmatization and regulations due to breed-specific legislation (BSL) that restrict or even ban the ownership of certain dog breeds. However, more recently, there has been a strong trend towards rejecting such laws.

This article will explore the impact of BSL on families with pit bulls, the growing opposition to breed-specific legislation, and how it has affected dogs and pet owners alike.

Trend Towards Rejection of Breed-Specific Legislation

For some, breed-specific legislation is a way to combat dog attacks and make neighborhoods safer. However, research shows that these laws are not effective and can create a host of other problems.

In fact, studies have shown that breed-specific legislation often has the opposite effect, making areas less safe by encouraging people to illegally obtain and breed banned breeds. Moreover, it puts undue pressure on responsible owners who are suddenly required to prove their dog is not a threat simply because of their breed.

Public opposition to breed-specific legislation has grown immensely in recent years. More and more people are becoming aware of the misconceptions surrounding dog breeds and are calling for laws that hold abusive and negligent owners responsible for their dogs behavior.

Many also believe that BSL is not only ineffective but also unenforceable, as it’s hard to determine what breed a dog is, especially as many mixed-breed dogs are misidentified as pit bulls.

Growing Support for Laws Targeting Abusive and Negligent Owners Rather Than Breeds

Essentially, BSL punishes dogs for their genetic makeup instead of holding humans accountable for their actions. Instead, it is argued that a better alternative is legislation that targets irresponsible ownership, such as failing to properly train, socialize, and care for their dog.

In fact, many municipalities have seen successful enforcement of such ordinances that target the behavior of owners rather than dogs based solely on their breed. By targeting owners instead of breeds, you are getting to the root of the problem – which is human behavior.

Acts of aggression towards other dogs or humans are learned behaviors, rather than inherent in a specific breed. Therefore, regulating the behavior, training, and ownership of dogs in general, regardless of their breed, might be more effective than breed-specific legislation.

Misidentification of Pit Bulls

Pit bulls are one of the most commonly misidentified breeds. Many people think that they can identify a pit bull immediately when, in fact, this is often not the case.

According to research done by the National Canine Research Council, visual identification of dog breeds by trained professionals, including veterinarians, yielded only a 25% agreement rate, demonstrating the inherent flaws in visual breed identification. Furthermore, breed identification by appearance in reviews of bite reports is notoriously unreliable.

In some instances, the breed of the dog involved in a bite is based solely on eyewitness accounts. A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science found that even under ideal conditions, visual identification of dog breeds was often inaccurate.

Based on these findings, breed-specific legislation is ineffective, given the questionable identification trigger.

Impact of BSL on Families with Pit Bulls

Unfortunately, pit bulls have been the breed most impacted by breed-specific legislation, with many laws targeting them specifically. Pit Bull laws undermine important human-animal bonds and create a culture of fear and prejudice towards owners and dogs, in general, unnecessarily.

In fact, many families with pit bulls have been separated, and dogs are put down simply based on their breed. Additionally, reactionary laws based on breed, not due process, make it challenging for people to practice responsible pet ownership.

This can lead to increased pet abandonment, which is already a significant problem in many areas. It can also lead to more animals ending up in shelters or on the streets, which creates more problems than it solves.

In Mark Buehrle’s experience, his beloved pit bull, Slater, was at risk of being taken away from him when he relocated to Miami due to the city’s pit bull restrictions. Slater is not an aggressive dog, but under breed-specific legislation, his life and loyalty to his familys world were in jeopardy.

Pit Bull laws create additional stress for families and prevent responsible owners from enjoying the companionship of their loving pets.


In conclusion, breed-specific legislation is not an effective way to promote public safety and can have severe consequences for families with pit bulls and other breeds negatively affected. There is also growing support for laws that target abusive and negligent owners instead of breeds.

People must realize that the answer to public safety is understanding and promoting responsible pet ownership. Therefore, legislation should be created with the purpose of protecting both humans and animals while acknowledging that targeting any singular breed cannot guarantee community safety.

Part Three: Grassroots Efforts to Reject BSL

As the debate over breed-specific legislation (BSL) continues, there has been a rise in grassroots efforts from concerned citizens to reject these laws. These efforts are aimed at raising public awareness about the flaws of BSL laws and advocating for alternatives that provide more comprehensive solutions to issues related to dogs and their behavior.

Through these efforts, many people have been mobilized to take a stand against BSL and show support for legislation that targets irresponsible dog ownership.

Citizens Against BSL

Citizens Against BSL is a grassroots organization dedicated to opposing breed-specific legislation. They inform people about the negative impact of breed-specific laws and fight against them.

Through their website, citizens can join the organization, share their stories, and connect with other like-minded individuals who are committed to advocating for alternatives to BSL.

National Groups Supporting Opposition to BSL

National organizations have also taken a stand against BSL. These groups have been instrumental in informing the public about the problems with breed-specific legislation, generating support for alternatives, and lobbying for legislation that promotes responsible dog ownership.

Two notable national groups are B.A.R.K. (Ban Animal Racism and KILLSHelter Dog Advocates) and National Canine Research Council (NCRC). B.A.R.K. is an organization dedicated to banning racist laws related to animals.

They fight against BSL and encourage responsible dog ownership practices. The organization has a wealth of information on their website about BSL and resources for those looking to take action against such laws.

National Canine Research Council is an organization dedicated to advancing biological knowledge and improving the lives of dogs. One of their primary goals is to end breed discrimination by promoting research-based information.

Their website provides resources to the public, shelters, animal control agencies, and legislators who are working towards more effective ways of preventing dog bites.

Importance of Local Residents Getting Involved in Advocacy

While national organizations play an essential role in broad-scale advocacy against breed-specific legislation, local support is also crucial. Local residents need to speak up against proposed BSL that involves their town or community.

For instance, in Pennsylvania, animal welfare advocate Lori Nanan successfully fought BSL in her town. She gathered support from like-minded individuals who shared her concerns and took proactive steps to oppose proposed BSL.

By rallying the community and working with legislators, she was able to prevent the passing of such legislation in her town. The collective voice of local residents can make a difference in opposing bills and laws that propose BSL.

Community members can take an active role in meeting with local officials, drafting petitions, and creating social media campaigns that impact public opinion and promote responsible dog ownership practices. Part Four: Difficulties with Identifying Pit Bulls

Misidentification of dog breeds, especially Pit Bulls, has contributed to many issues surrounding breed-specific legislation.

It is not uncommon for mixed-breed dogs to be misidentified as Pit Bulls, particularly in shelters. Such misidentifications can have severe consequences for dogs and their owners.

Breed Classification Difficulties in BSL

One of the main difficulties with breed-specific legislation is the reliance on visual breed identification. It is challenging to accurately identify a dog’s breed based on appearance alone, and relying on such methods is prone to errors.

Even professionals such as animal control officers, shelter managers, and veterinarians can only confidently identify a dog’s breed about 25% of the time. BSL that relies on this flawed method is often vague and difficult to enforce, which can further contribute to the negative effects on dogs and their owners.

Study Shows

Misidentification of Pit Bulls in Shelter

A study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found high rates of misidentification of dogs classified as pit bulls in shelters. According to the study, at least 50% of the dogs identified as pit bulls were, in fact, incorrectly classified.

Misidentification or incorrect classification can lead to the dog being incorrectly labeled to the public as aggressive, making it difficult for them to be adopted into loving homes.

Consequences of Misidentification

Misidentification of dogs as Pit Bulls can have serious consequences, including the seizure and euthanasia of dogs. If a locality has breed-specific legislation in place that prohibits Pit Bulls, misidentification can lead to wrongful seizure of mixed breeds and wrongful euthanasia of dogs that are not aggressive.

Misidentification can also result in insurance restrictions that make it harder for owners who wish to have insurance for themselves and their pets.


In conclusion, there has been a growing movement to reject breed-specific legislation and promote alternatives that target irresponsible dog ownership practices. While some still argue that BSL is necessary for public safety, studies and real examples have shown that it is not effective and can have serious adverse consequences.

Efforts by

Citizens Against BSL, other national groups, and local residents working together to take a stand against BSL have been crucial in promoting more effective and humane dog policies. Additionally, the issue of misidentification demonstrates that breed classification based on appearances is arbitrary, ineffective and ultimately poses more threats than benefits to dogs and their owners.

In conclusion, breed-specific legislation (BSL) is not a viable solution to promote public safety and can cause negative consequences for families with pit bulls and other breeds. There is a growing trend towards opposing BSL laws and advocating for alternative approaches that focus on responsible pet ownership.

Grassroots efforts led by local residents and national groups have been instrumental in this trend.

Misidentification of Pit Bulls makes breed classification based solely on appearances unreliable and contributes to the negative effects of BSL.

Overall, the message is clear that effective dog policies require a nuanced approach that considers all factors, including responsible ownership, rather than focusing on breed alone. Its our collective responsibility to promote compassionate and responsible pet ownership and challenge inaccurate stereotypes related to dog breeds.

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