Breed-Specific Legislation or BSL, are laws and statutes that are passed in order to regulate the ownership and keeping of various breeds of dogs. These are passed in response to data that shows that certain dogs are more liable to dog bites and animal attacks than others. This data can be somewhat controversial, but evidence sometimes suggests that certain dog breeds have higher bite statistics.

Under BSL statutes, breeds may be prohibited in certain cities or areas, as are mixes of those breeds. The prohibitions are usually based strictly on the breed of the dog rather than on any data or testimony for an individual dog’s behavioral history. That is, the owner of a prohibited dog may face penalties regardless of whether the dog actually had a history of attacks.

What Types of Breeds are Commonly Included Under BSL Laws?

BSL laws usually address dogs that are considered to be dangerous. These include:

  • Pit bulls (American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pit Bull Terriers)
  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Bulldogs
  • Other dogs used in dog fighting

As mentioned, dogs that are of mixed breed can also be confiscated if they meet the distinguishing characteristics used by Kennel Club Societies for identifying pit bull breeds or other breeds. This may depend on the town or city however; some cities only prohibited dogs that are unlicensed or are not handled by a trained, certified professional.

What Are Some Common BSL Violations?

Some common BSL violations include:

  • Owning a breed that has been prohibited
  • Selling or distributing dogs or puppies that have been prohibited
  • Breeding dogs in violation of BSL standards
  • Failing to meet licensing requirements for certain dog breeds

Usually, expert testimony is needed to prove that a dog falls in a BSL category. Penalties for BSL violations may include fines, confiscation of the dog, and legal liability for any injuries caused by the dog. In severe cases, criminal penalties can also result.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Breed Specific Legislation Issues?

Animal laws vary widely by state, county, and city. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help with the animal control laws in your area. Not all places have BSL rules in place. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help understanding how BSL statutes may affect you. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and can also represent you if you need to attend a court meeting.