Lack of Professional Support

Experts Do Not Support BSL

Professional opinions should count for something.

Members of the National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and many other canine welfare groups deal with aggressive dogs on a regular basis. So do these major animal organizations support breed-specific legislation? No. In fact, none of these professional groups do. Read their position statements and find out why not.

(alphabetic order)

American Bar Association (ABA)

American Dog Owners Association (ADOA)

American Humane

American Kennel Club (AKC)

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

American Working Dog Federation (AWDF)

Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

Best Friends Animal Society

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

International Assocation of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)

International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)

National Animal Control Association (NACA)

National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA)

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)

American Bar Association
Resolution 100
(click above for direct link)

Urges Adoption of Breed-Neutral Dog Laws
Resolution adopted 8/6/2012

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and to repeal any breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
(click above for direct link)

HSUS Statement on Dangerous Dogs and Breed-Specific Legislation

The HSUS opposes legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed for a number of reasons. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a common first approach that many communities take. Thankfully, once research is conducted most community leaders correctly realize that BSL won’t solve the problems they face with dangerous dogs…

Read entire text here.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
(click above for direct link to all position statements)

Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation (excerpt–please visit the link for lengthy background materials, references, sample breed-neutral laws, and discussion)

It is, therefore, the ASPCA’s position to oppose any state or local law to regulate or ban dogs based on breed. The ASPCA recognizes that dangerous dogs pose a community problem requiring serious attention. However, in light of the absence of scientific data indicating the efficacy of breed-specific laws, and the unfair and inhumane targeting of responsible pet guardians and their dogs that inevitably results when these laws are enacted, the ASPCA instead favors effective enforcement of a combination of breed-neutral laws that hold reckless dog guardians accountable for their dogs’ aggressive behavior.

Position Statement on Breed-Specific Bans (excerpt–visit the link for additional text)

The ASPCA supports reasonable “leash” laws and laws that regulate dogs who have caused unjustifiable injury or who present substantial danger to the public. However, the ASPCA opposes laws that ban specific breeds of dogs or that discriminate against particular breeds. These laws unfairly discriminate against responsible dog guardians based solely on their choice of breed. Such laws also fail to achieve the desired goal of stopping illegal activities such as dog fighting, and breeding and/or training dogs to be aggressive. The ASPCA believes that strict enforcement of laws that ban animal fighting, and breeding and/or training animals to fight, is the proper means to address the problem.

AVMA Position on Dangerous Animal Legislation
(click above for direct link)

Dangerous Animal Legislation

(Current as of November 2005)

The AVMA supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals. This legislation should be directed at fostering safety and protection of the general public from animals classified as dangerous.

National Animal Control Association Policy Statement
(click above for direct link)

Extended Animal Control Concerns – Dangerous/Vicious Animals


Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.


Any animal may exhibit aggressive behavior regard-less of breed. Accurately identifying a specific animal’s lineage for prosecution purposes may be extremely difficult. Additionally, breed specific legislation may create an undue burden to owners who otherwise have demonstrated proper pet management and responsibility.


Agencies should encourage enactment and stringent enforcement of dangerous/vicious dog laws. When applicable, agencies should not hesitate to prosecute owners for murder, manslaughter, or similar violations resulting from their animal’s actions, and their owner lack of responsibility. Laws should clearly define “dangerous” or “vicious”, and provide for established penalties. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, and/or the relinquishing of total privileges to pet ownership. If a dangerous/vicious animal is allowed to be kept, laws should specify methods of secure confinement and control. A dangerous/vicious animal when kept outside should be confined in an escape-proof enclosure which is locked and secured on all six sides. Signs should be posted at property entrances and be visible from the nearest sidewalk or street. The licensing record could include a notation which will immediately identify an animal which has been deemed dangerous or vicious.

Reviewed/Revised by the NACA Corporate Office – 09/17/02

American Humane
(click above for direct link – PDF Doc)

Dangerous Dog Laws and Breed-Specific Regulations

American Humane believes that no breed of dog automatically poses a high risk of attack, and that it is unjust to punish loving, responsible dog owners merely because of a breed’s reputation. American Humane supports efforts to protect members of the community from dangerous animals and encourages communities to hold pet owners responsible for any injury caused by animals in their care. American Humane also encourages dog owners to undergo basic obedience training with their pets and to socialize them with people and other animals from an early age.

By definition, dangerous dogs are dogs that, without provocation, have attacked or behaved in a terrorizing manner. In order to protect the public from these types of animals, communities may legitimately enact “dangerous dog” laws. Such laws may impose reasonable restrictions on dogs proven to be dangerous, such as housing requirements, fencing, leash length restrictions, muzzles, posted warning signs, sterilization, additional licensing, behavior training and liability insurance requirements. Any dog, whether or not previously labeled as dangerous, that has attacked humans or domestic animals may be euthanized when local laws and jurisprudence are followed. The owner should be given a period of time and a process by which to appeal, and should be required to post a bond for the care of the animal during the appeal.

American Humane opposes legislation that seeks to ban a particular breed of dog. Such laws provide a false sense of security as all dogs, when improperly treated or trained, can present a risk to public health. Breed-specific legislation that outlaws specific breeds of dogs can increase the danger to the community by spawning black market interest, indiscriminate and irresponsible breeding practices, and subsequent overpopulation issues.

American Humane is also concerned by reports that a number of insurance companies have adopted policies that deny homeowner coverage to owners of particular breeds of dogs. Insurance companies concerned with the risk of dog-bite-related claims can seek information on the dog’s behavioral history, require pets to undergo training, or determine whether a dog is a high insurance risk on a case-by-case basis. American Humane opposes any policy that denies insurance coverage to all owners of certain breeds of dogs.

American Kennel Club Position Statement
(click above for direct link–PDF doc)

“Dangerous Dog” Control Legislation

The American Kennel Club supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. The AKC believes that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. We believe that, if necessary, dogs proven to be “dangerous” may need to be humanely destroyed. The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be “dangerous” based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs.

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors
(click above for direct link)

Regarding breed-specific legislation

The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, Inc. (NADOI) strongly opposes breed specific legislation which targets or discriminates against certain dogs based only on their breed or appearance. Such laws are unfair because they assume that a dog may be dangerous simply because of breed. In fact, it is almost always the behavior of the owners of these dogs which makes them a danger to others.

Since 1965, NADOI has worked to help people train their dogs to be well behaved. Also, NADOI educates dog owners about their responsibility not only to their dogs but to their communities. Ordinances against dangerous dogs, unattended and loose dogs, nuisance barking, and other objectionable dog behaviors should be enacted and aggressively enforced. These laws, unlike breed specific laws, force all dog owners to be responsible for the behavior of their dogs.

Approved by the Board of Directors, June 2004.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers
(click above for direct link)

The following statements reflect the opinion of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers

The Association of Pet dog Trainers (APDT) supports the adoption or enforcement of a program for the control of potentially dangerous or vicious dogs that is fair, non-discriminatory and addresses dogs that are shown to be dangerous by their actions.

The APDT opposes any law that deems a dog as dangerous or vicious based on appearance, breed or phenotype. Canine temperaments are widely varied, and behavior cannot be predicted by physical features such as head shape, coat length, muscle to bone ratio, etc. The only predictor of behavior is behavior.

As an organization comprised of dog trainers, behaviorists and other animal professionals, the APDT is fully aware that any dog can bite, any dog can maim, and any dog can kill. A dangerous or vicious dog is a product of a combination of individual genetics, upbringing, socialization, and lack of proper training. The solution to preventing dog bites is education of owners, breeders, and the general public about aggression prevention, not legislation directed at certain breeds.

Singling out and publicly demonizing certain breeds as dangerous is unfair, discriminatory, and does an immense disservice to those breeds and the people who care about them. Even more chilling, breed specific legislation encourages the faulty public perception of other breeds as being inherently safe. This can lead misguided individuals to engage in unsafe conduct with other breeds that can result in injury or death by individual representatives of those breeds mistakenly perceived as safe. Also, designating certain breeds as inherently dangerous implies to the public that behavior is not effectively influenced, positively or negatively, by training. This misconception will likely produce a growing number of dangerous dogs as misinformed, complacent dog owners fail to practice responsible aggression-prevention measures.

Approved 2001

American Dog Owners Association
(click above for direct link)

Dangerous Dogs and Breed-Specific Legislation

The ADOA strongly supports breed neutral laws that target irresponsible owners rather than any specific breed of dog. The ADOA opposes breed specific legislation, which targets the breed and not the deed. Irresponsibility of the owner is the primary cause of most dog bites and dogs running at large. Legislation to curb these problems is already in place in the majority of municipalities; however, enforcement is lax. With increased enforcement, existing laws relating to proper restraint and confinement of dogs would dramatically cut down on the majority of dog complaints. As an ADOA Recommended Best Practice, communities are encouraged to enforce the laws already on the books instead of turning to breed specific legislation (BSL).

Best Friends Animal Society
(excerpt—click above for link to more information)

Best Friends attorneys draft ordinances and laws that truly protect communities from reckless owners and dangerous dogs. We lobby for passage of good legislation and help stop ineffective or discriminatory legislation. Best Friends opposes breed-discriminatory legislation (also called breed-specific legislation, BSL), which arbitrarily targets particular breeds. Breed-discriminatory laws are not only ineffective at improving community safety, they are extremely expensive to enforce and deplete needed resources from animal control.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
(click above for direct link)

A CDC study on fatal dog bites lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years (Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998). It does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.

Many practical alternatives to breed-specific policies exist and hold promise for preventing dog bites. For prevention ideas and model policies for control of dangerous dogs, please see the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions: A community approach to dog bite prevention.

National Animal Interest Alliance
(click above for direct link)

Position Statement

NAIA supports reasonable laws to protect the public from dangerous dogs and opposes breed-specific legislation in any form. Breed-specific laws target good dogs and responsible animal owners along with the bad.

Unfortunately, sensational media coverage and misleading claims of canine super strength and cunning of some breeds of dogs, especially the bull-and-terrier breeds and crossbreeds, have manipulated public opinion. These factors often lead to limits on breeding and owning certain types of dogs despite the fact that many individual dogs fitting the description are beloved family pets or valuable working partners. Restrictions from outright bans to requirements for confinement, insurance, and spay and neuter often follow incidents in which a breed and its crosses are implicated in aggressive incidents or dog fighting or other criminal activity. Such limits cause the death of many well-behaved pets and rob law-abiding pet owners of their rights to choose a breed or mix and responsibly own or maintain a pet or working dog without government interference.

NAIA supports nuisance ordinances and dangerous dog laws to protect the community against unruly or dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners. NAIA supports sentences for violation of dog confinement and nuisance laws that include mandatory attendance at a basic obedience training class. AKC dog obedience clubs have provided such classes for the general public for decades and, together with private trainers, they represent a well-established community resource for courts dealing with dog-related offenses.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
(click above for direct link)

Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation:

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) is an organization representing professional animal trainers and animal behavior specialists. The IAABC strongly opposes any legislation specifically designed to target or discriminate against dogs based solely on their breed or appearance. The IAABC does not believe that a dog poses a danger to society solely because of its breed. Dogs can become dangerous as a result of faulty socialization, inappropriate training, poor living conditions and other factors having nothing to do with their breed. The IAABC believes that the objectives behind breed specific legislation can be met more effectively through rigorous enforcement and, where necessary, the strengthening of existing laws. We fully understand and support the need for laws to protect society, human and animal alike; however, our organization feels that any new legislation should be based on specific behaviors or actions and should not discriminate based on breed alone.

American Working Dog Federation
(click above for direct link)

“The American Working Dog Federation is a National organization that exists to preserve the heritage of all working dog breeds. Made up of 10 different breed clubs and over 8000 members, the AWDF acts as a national advocate by providing information to the media, the public in general and other canine organizations. The AWDF implements programs for education of its membership, the canine community and the public at large. The AWDF and all of its member clubs shall oppose any illegal activity involving dogs.

The AWDF and it’s members support reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws that allow responsible dog owners to exist harmoniously within their communities. The AWDF does not support breed specific restrictions and/or restrictions of working dogs or dogs in sport. The AWDF believes that a dangerous dog should be defined by it’s actions rather than phenotype. The AWDF strongly opposes breed specific legislation. We believe that dog owners deserve the right to prove themselves worthy by educating themselves and their dogs through proper training and by remaining responsible, no matter what breed they choose to own.

Dog owners across the United States make up for more than 44% of the actual votes tallied. We, as the American Working Dog Federation, support legislators who work with their constituents to find proactive solutions to irresponsible dog owners and dangerous dogs, no matter what breed. Dog owners who elect officials into public office are counting on their legislators to preserve their rights as long as they remain responsible and the American Working Dog Federation stand beside them in unity.

International Association of Canine Professionals
(click above for direct link–PDF doc)

Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation

The International Association of Canine Professionals strongly opposes legislation which discriminates against dogs and their owners by labeling certain dogs as “dangerous” or “vicious” based on breed or phenotype. Breed-specific legislation does not protect communities nor create a more responsible dog owner. Instead it negatively affects many law abiding dog owners and dogs within the targeted breeds.

Breed or breed type is only one factor which determines an individual dog’s temperament. Many other factors also influence behavior. In the case of aggressive acts by dogs, factors may include, but are not limited to: genetic predisposition; irresponsible handling; lack of animal management; general care; improper socialization and training; poor housing conditions; physical ailment, and lack of education and supervision.

A common and serious error in the ‘assumption of risk by breed’ is the inability to identify individual dogs by breed, according to an established breed standard or breed type. Purebred dogs which are registered with national clubs may or may not fit the ideal standard for their breed. As dogs are further distanced from the
“ideal” standard by phenotype, especially in mixed breeds, it may become all but impossible for accurate identification.

The vast majority of dogs typically affected by breed-specific legislation are not “dangerous” by any standard. Their physical appearance alone cannot be used as an indicator of an aggressive nature. Breed-specific legislation creates an undue burden on responsible owners of targeted breeds – dogs which are most often not dangerous to their communities.

Enforcing breed-specific laws is extremely difficult. It requires funding which would otherwise be available for the enforcement of more effective laws which target truly dangerous dogs on an individual basis. It is also costly to the court system.

Limiting the risk of dog bites should be the legal responsibility of the dog owner. The IACP believes in the importance of educating owners in the proper selection, care, socialization and training of dogs. We also recognize the importance of teaching the general public, and especially children, in bite prevention skills and techniques.

The IACP supports the creation and enforcement of laws which protect responsible dog owners while at the same time promote the safety of all. We support laws which penalize irresponsible dog owners on an individual basis. Current animal control laws should be enforced. In many communities, laws allow officials to confiscate the individual dog who has proven dangerous. This, along with the education we advocate, will help the public not to simply feel safer, but actually to be safer. A very small minority of dogs pose any significant threat to humans. Dog ownership, on the whole, improves quality of life for countless families.

Next Page: Alternatives to BSL

Previous Page: Punishment of the Innocent

One response to “Lack of Professional Support

  1. Pingback: The Day We Almost Lost our Gentle Giant. « Dogpawfile Magazine