Dogs

Is your bully breed banned?

posted: 05/15/12
breed-specific-legislation0
Art Vandalay/Getty Images

In 1903, Horatio Jackson set off on the first cross-country road trip in an automobile and picked up a sidekick along the way: a pit bull mix named Bud. As news traveled of their journey, they became celebrated adventurers, but if they tried to take this trip now, they'd encounter many roadblocks due to breed specific legislation (BSL). Today, a number of breed bans and restrictions exist across the nation, making it very difficult for bully breed owners to travel with their pets and even reside in certain states and cities. Before you take a vacation -- or relocate permanently -- with your bully, make sure you know the laws and regulations that you might encounter along the way.

The Lowdown on BSL

Spurred on by several fatal dog attacks, BSL began to crop up in local municipalities throughout the U.S. in the early 1990s. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), bully breeds are often misidentified as the culprits in these attacks, but they're almost always the subjects of BSL. Most animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA, don't believe BSL is the answer, because it unfairly targets dog breeds instead of irresponsible owners. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), statistics show BSL has been mostly ineffective at lowering the number of dog attacks that occur. Nevertheless, anti-breed legislation is still a reality for many dogs and their owners.

The most commonly banned breeds are "pit bull" breeds, such as the American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier and American pit bull terrier. Often, any breed that appears to be a pit bull mix is subject to BSL, regardless of whether it has bully genes or not. But bans can apply to a variety of other breeds as well, including bulldogs, mastiffs and even some non-bully breeds like chow chows, Doberman pinschers and Dalmatians. In addition to breed bans, BSL also includes breed-specific restrictions, which are regulations that allow bully breeds within a city, but with strict stipulations. Here are some of the most common types of restrictions:

- Muzzling in public

- Carrying liability insurance of a specified amount

- Display of a "dangerous dog" sign at the dog's residence

- Micro-chipping

- Mandatory spay or neuter

- Making dogs wear "dangerous dog" tags BSL and You The easiest and most accurate way to find out what BSL is on the books in any city is to contact local animal control offices. If you're planning a trip with your bully, you should check ahead to see what restrictions you might encounter. Make sure the hotel you're staying at is pet-friendly and that the city you're visiting hasn't banned your breed. If you're unsure of local restrictions or plan to travel through multiple cities, it might be best to leave your pet with a responsible friend or find acceptable boarding arrangements. If you're planning to relocate, check to see if the city you're moving to has BSL. If they have a full ban on your dog's breed, you're sadly out of luck. You could consider living in a nearby county without a ban, or you might need to look for a new home for your bully. Don't try to move a dog into a city where it's banned. If discovered, his fate will most likely be euthanasia. Also, if your city has breed-specific regulations, make sure you are in compliance, if for no other reason than to keep your bully safe from being confiscated. Living with a bully breed certainly isn't as easy as it was during the early 20th century, but the more bully parents prove their dogs are loyal and loving companions through responsible training and socialization, the more likely it is that BSL will be overturned. 10 Largest Cities with BSL Boston, MA Columbia, SC Denver, CO Indianapolis, IN Miami, FL Omaha, NE Prince George's County, MD Richmond, VA Santa Monica, CA Wichita, KS

More on
Bully Breeds