breed specific legislation


If your dog has physical characteristics that remind people of a "pit bull" type dog (or a Rottweiler, or an Akita, or a couple of dozen other breeds), you will probably come face to face with breed specific legislation. This can crop up in housing situations, services, municipal bylaws, and even on provincial or national levels.

Breed specific legislation is a bad idea and we encourage people to speak out about it however they can. It's a complex issue, but here are a few helpful resources:

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A "pit bull" isn't a thing.

The term is applied to short-haired dogs from 25-125 pounds, and there are many examples of boxers, Labs, mastiffs, bulldogs, vizslas, and other short-haired breeds or mixes being targeted by this legislation. You can't legislate what you can't define.
 

Life or death decisions are based on guesswork.

The vast majority of dogs in our community are mixed breed or of unknown/uncertain parentage, so the "pit bull" label is usually applied based on visual identification, and research shows that breed label guesses are usually wrong. How can we endorse a policy that sentences a shorter-haired version of that mix to death while the other one gets to live?

BSL doesn't work.

The research is practically unanimous. Jurisdictions that have implemented BSL do not see a decrease in dog bites. In many cases, bites increase. BSL directs animal control resources to policing a dog's appearance, not its behaviour. It also creates a false sense of security that non-targeted breeds are inherently "safe", so proper training, management, and interventions are not applied to all dogs who show concerning behaviour. 

BSL does not target proven risk factors for dog bites.

Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Centres for Disease Control, and many other sources identify risk factors for dog bites. Breed is not one of them. Factors that lead to dog attacks include the individual genetics of the dogs, early training and socialization, running at large, pack behaviour, health status, intact reproductive status, and owner responsibility.

 
There's a proven alternative.

Promoting responsible ownership and targeting behaviour – not breed – is the only proven way to reduce dog bites and make communities safer. This is known as Dangerous Dog Legislation and it is based on clear, specific bylaws that promote responsible owner behaviour.