STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH LAWMAKERS, THE PUBLIC, AND THE MEDIA
POINTS TO ADDRESS REGARDING BREED-SPECIFIC LAWS
WHY THE PUREBRED DOG FANCY IS CONCERNED ABOUT THIS ISSUE
No group could be more concerned about the problems inadequate animal
control and dangerous animals can cause a community than the purebred
dog fancy. The dog fancy’s goal is non-discriminatory, fair, effective
and enforceable legislation that addresses the pertinent animal issues
in the community.
BREED-SPECIFIC LAWS ARE NOT THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT COMMUNITIES
Breed-specific laws are only a stop-gap measure. Instead of holding
all dog owners accountable for their behavior, breed-specific laws only
place restrictions on the owners of certain types of dogs. An owner
intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes, such as dog
fighting, will simply be able to switch to another type of dog and continue
to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could
grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds,
not breeds, should be addressed in the ordinance.
Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. Regulations that target specific
breeds force law enforcement officials to focus their valuable time
on breed identification. This task requires expert knowledge of the
individual breeds and is compounded when the law includes mixed breeds.
It is very difficult for public officials to enforce such provisions
fairly and effectively.
BREED-SPECIFIC LAWS ARE UNFAIR TO RESPONSIBLE OWNERS
Many owners of the targeted breeds are extremely responsible and loving
towards their pets. The breed-specific laws may prevent responsible
owners from freely interacting with, showing, breeding or performing
pet therapy with their dogs. In addition, this type of legislation may
cause financial hardship to responsible owners.
BREED-SPECIFIC LAWS COULD INCREASE COSTS FOR COMMUNITY
Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon household
pets of the targeted breeds at the shelter because of inability to comply
with the breed specific laws. In addition, adoptable dogs of the targeted
breeds would be euthanized at the shelter.
BREED-SPECIFIC LAWS MAY NOT WITHSTAND LEGAL CHALLENGES
Some communities have had their breed specific laws overturned upon
constitutional challenges. Because proper identification of what dogs
would be included is difficult or impossible, the law may be deemed
as unconstitutionally vague. It may also be found to involve the taking
of property without due process.
A BETTER SOLUTION IS AVAILABLE
Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic
guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education
efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all better ways to
protect communities from dangerous animals. Increasing public education
efforts will help attack the root cause of the problem--irresponsible
Uniformly enforced generic laws will force all owners, regardless of
what breed of dog they own, to be responsible animal owners. They will
also prevent irresponsible owners from simply turning to a different
breed. Generic laws will allow public safety officers to focus all of
their time on holding pet owners accountable for their actions and the
behavior of their animals. A breed-specific law would require officers
to divide their time between protecting the public and performing questionable
THE PUREBRED DOG FANCY AND THE AKC ARE VALUABLE RESOURCES
The purebred dog fancy is extremely interested in developing fair and
effective animal control laws and dangerous dog regulations, as well
as bolstering public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership.
To help achieve these goals, the fancy will assist the community by
serving on or starting animal control advisory boards to monitor problems
and help develop reasonable solutions, and volunteering time and resources
to help start or improve public education campaigns to teach responsible
AKC’s Canine Legislation and Public Education departments also
assist communities. The Canine Legislation department provides sample
legislation and helps develop or improve animal control laws. The Public
Education department gives communities free materials and assistance
in conducting responsible dog ownership campaigns.