The type of bill most frequently analyzed by AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) is breed-specific legislation. Breed-specific legislation, or BSL, is any measure that seeks to ban or place restrictions on particular dog breeds or dogs with certain physical characteristics.
Breed-specific bills are often introduced in quick response in a community where a person has been injured by a dog. These tragedies arouse concern and bring attention the need for enforceable laws to protect citizens from dangerous dogs.
The American Kennel Club shares this concern, and believes that all dog owners must be held accountable for their pets. However, each dog should be judged by its deeds, not its breed. AKC supports laws that establish a fair process by which individual dogs (regardless of breed) are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions and laws that impose appropriate penalties on owners of these dogs. Reasonable dangerous dog laws, enforced for all dogs, are most effective in protecting the safety of the community as well as the rights of responsible dog owners.
BSL continues to be introduced in some communities, even though such laws have proved ineffective across the United States and around the world. BSL is similar to racial profiling because it targets dogs based on their outward physical characteristics and presumed common ancestry. And these laws unfairly punish dog owners who choose to responsibly own and love dogs that are, or resemble, a breed named in breed-specific laws.
Breed-specific legislation is problematic because it forces animal control and law enforcement officials to become breed identification experts and spend valuable time and taxpayer resources on breed identification rather than focusing on real issues confronting the community.
AKC GR relies on local residents to advise us about pending breed-specific ordinances in their cities and counties. If you hear discussion or learn of proposed BSL or other measures that unfairly impact responsible dog owners in your community, please contact email@example.com or 919-816-3720.