This post contain affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

The Cost of Breed Specific Legislation: Uncovering Ineffectiveness and Unfairness for Dogs & Owners


Last updated on June 11th, 2023 at 04:32 am

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is ineffective and unfair because it targets breeds instead of individual dogs’ behavior, and responsible owners and innocent dogs are punished while irresponsible owners and dangerous dogs go unchecked.

Calling all Pit Bull owners – what are your thoughts on BSL?

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) has been shown to be ineffective in reducing dog bite incidents and often leads to unfair treatment of both dogs and their responsible owners.

Some cities have rules about what kind of dogs people can have, and these rules are called Breed-specific legislation (BSL).

These rules are made for dogs that some people think are dangerous, like pit bulls.

But some people believe these rules aren’t effective because they don’t always help keep people safe from dog bites. And these rules treat some people and their dogs unfairly.

Using BSL to deal with dog bites and attacks isn’t the best way to go about the issue of aggressive dogs.

It doesn’t take into account how each dog acts on its own – not just their breed. This can make things hard for owners who are doing the right thing while not solving the underlying problem of why some dogs get aggressive.

Plus, it’s costly to enforce and makes things challenging for both owners and their dogs.

Sometimes, even good dogs have to be put down because of it.

As we learn more about how Breed Bans don’t work, we need to start thinking about other ways to keep communities safe from dangerous dogs.

Instead of just looking at the breed, we should focus on ensuring owners are responsible by properly training their dogs and advocating for their breed.

BSL costs a lot for owners, their pets, and everyone else. So, we have to ask ourselves: is there a better way to ensure people don’t get bit by dogs and stay safe?

Black and white pitbull head looking sad

The Basics of Breed-Specific Legislation

According to the ASPCA, Breed-Specific Bans are often criticized for being a “quick fix” rather than a long-term solution, and they are considered breed-discriminatory laws by many experts.

BSL laws can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; some places may impose restrictions on certain breeds, while others may enforce an outright ban.

However, in recent years, there’s been a shift towards repealing these laws in favor of breed-neutral laws that focus on individual dog behavior and responsible pet ownership.

Some common requirements of various BSL laws might include the following:

  • Restrictions on ownership or breeding of specific breeds.
  • Requirements for owners to muzzle, spay or neuter their dogs.
  • Mandatory microchipping and registration of the dogs.
  • Strict leash laws and designated areas for exercising dogs.

It’s important to note that 21 states in the US have provisions prohibiting breed-specific laws and policies by municipalities, making them opt for more comprehensive, breed-neutral laws instead.

Who Is Impacted by Breed-Specific Laws?

Breed-Specific Laws (BSL) are rules made by local governments to control ownership of certain dog breeds considered “dangerous.” These laws usually apply to dogs like American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Bull Terriers, as well as dogs that look like them. Over 700 cities in the United States have these laws, which can make things difficult for dog owners with fees and, in some cases, putting the dog down.

But some states, like New York, Texas, and Illinois, have different rules that don’t focus on the breed of the dog but on how dangerous it is. This way is better because it’s fairer for all dogs.

Still, each city can make its own rules about BSL, so dog owners need to know the laws where they live. If they don’t, they could get into trouble.

Breeds Targeted by Breed-Specific Legislation

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a type of law designed to target specific breeds of dogs deemed “dangerous.” The most commonly targeted breed is the pit bull, which includes several breeds such as the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier. This group also comprises the American bulldog, which shares a similar gene pool with these breeds.

While rottweilers and other fighting and bull-baiting breeds, such as the presa canario and cane corso may also be targeted in some areas, pit bulls are the main focus of BSL due to their prevalence and negative impact on communities.

Wolf-dog hybrids are a unique case, as they are partly domesticated and undomesticated. Because of this, their regulation often occurs on a state level, with states like Alaska, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Maryland banning their ownership.

When state law is silent on this issue, some cities incorporate wolf hybrids into their breed-specific ordinances.

Impact of BSL on Dog Owners and the Community

Financial Burden

One of the significant consequences of breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the increased financial burden on dog owners due to additional requirements like insurance and registration fees.

In some cases, dog owners are required to obtain expensive liability insurance as a condition of owning a specific breed. This often results in higher costs for these pet owners than those who own non-targeted breeds.

Moreover, the cost of pet care has increased overall, as evidenced by the 3.7% annual inflation rate in pet food prices and the 5.8% spike in veterinary care costs. These rising expenses further strain the finances of dog owners affected by BSL.


In addition to the financial toll, breed-specific legislation frequently leads to the labeling of both dog owners and their pets. The laws contribute to a public perception that the targeted breeds are dangerous, resulting in discrimination and social isolation for responsible dog owners.

Additionally, BSL hurts the community as a whole since it disregards the numerous benefits of pet ownership, such as reducing stress and improving well-being.

Finally, the emphasis on breeds rather than individual temperament may result in the unfair targeting of well-behaved dogs while neglecting to address dogs of other breeds that may pose risks to public safety.

In summary, breed-specific legislation creates financial burdens and encourages labeling for affected dog owners and their pets.

Instead, focusing on responsible ownership and individual dog behavior would be a more promising approach to community safety.

Unintended Consequences and Ineffectiveness of BSL

Misidentification of Dog Breeds

One major issue with breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the frequent misidentification of dog breeds. It’s not always easy to accurately determine a dog’s breed, leading to unfair targeting of certain dogs and owners.

Mixed breeds, in particular, can be challenging to classify, resulting in extreme restrictions or penalties for those dogs and their owners.

When breed identification is based on appearance alone, even professionals can struggle to determine a dog’s breed with certainty.

This inaccuracy not only results in the unjust treatment of dogs but also undermines the overall effectiveness of BSL.

Failure to Improve Public Safety

BSL was implemented with the intention of reducing dog bite incidents and improving public safety. However, evidence shows that these laws are not achieving their intended goals.

Multiple studies have found no significant decrease in dog bite incidents in areas with BSL compared to those without it.

Instead of focusing on specific breeds, a more effective approach would be to enforce responsible dog ownership and promote public education about dog behavior.

In addition, dog bite prevention strategies should concentrate on identifying and addressing the root causes of aggressive behavior rather than targeting specific breeds.

In conclusion, BSL comes with unintended consequences, such as misidentification of dog breeds and failure to improve public safety, which ultimately make it an ineffective and unfair solution for addressing dog-related issues.

Alternatives to BSL

Breed-specific legislation may not be the most effective method to promote responsible dog ownership and protect the public.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to BSL that focus on addressing the core issues of responsible dog ownership and promoting community safety without unfairly targeting specific breeds.

Responsible Dog Ownership

Instead of breed-specific laws, communities can focus on implementing and enforcing more comprehensive pet ownership regulations. These laws hold all dog owners equally accountable, regardless of their dog’s breed.

Such rules include proper containment, leash requirements, and other general dog safety measures.

A few examples of reasonable alternatives to breed-specific legislation can be found in Illinois, such as the Illinois Animal Control Act and the Highland Park Dangerous/Vicious Dogs and Problem Pet Owner Ordinance.

Education and Awareness

Another alternative to BSL is through education and awareness campaigns, which aim to teach dog owners about proper care and handling of their dogs, avoiding potentially dangerous situations, and understanding dog behavior.

For example, knowing how to prevent dog bites and recognizing the signs of dog aggression can significantly reduce the occurrence of dog-related incidents.

Organizations like the ASPCA and AKC have implemented programs and resources to educate pet owners and the public about dog bite prevention, responsible pet ownership, and the need for fair and effective laws focusing on individual dog behavior rather than breed.

By focusing on responsible dog ownership and promoting education and awareness, communities can work together to create safer environments for both people and dogs without the need for breed-specific legislation.


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and a study published in Injury Prevention, BSL fails to address the root causes of dog bites and instead focuses on generalizing breeds as dangerous.

BSL has also been found to impact communities and responsible dog owners negatively. For example, BSL can result in decreased adoption rates, increased euthanasia, and financial strain for shelters and municipalities.

Education, promoting responsible dog ownership, and enforcing leash laws are far more effective methods for ensuring the safety and well-being of communities. It is essential to prioritize strategies that focus on individual dog behavior and owner responsibility rather than a dog’s breed or appearance.

Moving forward, shifting the conversation away from BSL and toward solutions that fairly and effectively address dog-related issues in communities is crucial. Doing so can create a safer and more humane environment for both humans and dogs.


Leave a Comment

white pit bull laying on mattress

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join a community of fellow pit bull owners and enthusiasts who share your affection and dedication towards these amazing dogs.

You have Successfully Subscribed!