Dangerous Dog Laws: Keeping People and Pets Safe

Breed restrictions against dogs like this friendly brown pitbull do not make communities safer.

We all want safe and humane communities for people and pets alike. Protecting people from dangerous dogs will always be our number one priority, which is why our public safety laws should focus on the behavior of the individual dog and owner, not on outdated misconceptions about certain dog breeds. This formula has proven effective by emphasizing public safety, personal responsibility and individual accountability. The simple truth is that breed is not a factor in bites.

But reckless owners are a factor. Bad owners lead to bad dogs, and that puts everyone at risk. The best laws address the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and put regulations in place to restrain and restrict any dangerous dog. All problem or nuisance dogs should be sterilized because studies have shown that the majority of bite cases come from unneutered male dogs.

Breed restriction

Studies done in countries with breed-specific laws, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. Based on these studies and concerns about property rights infringement, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association don’t support breed restrictions. Instead, they support laws that go after the real problem: the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the reckless or negligent owner.

Another problem with breed-specific laws: They interfere with citizens’ basic property rights. In America, every citizen who follows the safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog he or she chooses. Twenty-one states now prohibit breed restrictions, and one reason is that it violates property rights.

Scientific studies have proven that pit bull terriers are just as safe and gentle as any other dog. In fact, they have ranked better than golden retrievers or border collies on temperament tests, according to the American Temperament Test Society. Given a loving home and caring people, pit bull terriers can be man’s best friend. There’s a reason they used to be called “America’s dog.” Instead of punishing innocent dogs, let’s hold owners accountable and responsible for animals who are actually dangerous.

Safe communities

By working together, we can ensure that every pet receives a loving home. This humane goal is being achieved in many communities throughout the United States. Your community can achieve it, too, and Best Friends is there to help. For more information please contact Lee Greenwood, Esq., at leeg@bestfriends.org or Ledy VanKavage, Esq., at ledyv@bestfriends.org.

Breed-specific legislation fails because:

  • It violates basic property rights.
  • It focuses on the wrong thing.
  • It’s arbitrary.
  • It’s expensive.
  • It’s ineffective.
  • It’s not practical.

Click here to download and print this document. (PDF 531 KB)