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OPPOSING BREED-SPECIFIC LEGISLATION
STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH LAWMAKERS, THE PUBLIC, AND THE MEDIA

July 2005

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 dog owners.

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 breed-identification.

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 dog ownership.

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.