What is BSL (Breed Specific Legislation)

For comprehensive information, see Breed-Specific Legislation FAQ
DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victims’ group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks, releases a Breed-Specific Legislation FAQ on its website. The new in depth FAQ explains what breed-specific legislation (BSL) encompasses, why it primarily involves pit bulls, how cities and counties enforce breed-specific laws and examples of ordinances that produced strong results. The FAQ also dismantles a variety of false myths about BSL.

Less than 25% of pit bull owners spay or neuter their dogs, compared to 75% of other breeds. The result is high levels of costly and tragic euthanization due to excessive over-population.

BSL stands for “breed specific legislation”. Breed-specific laws do not mean killing dogs — in fact, BSL can improve the rates at which pit bulls are currently euthanized as a result of rampant over-breeding.

Breed specific legislation specifies that dogs of a certain type or appearance be subjected to particular laws. Legislation may ban certain types of dog in a defined geographic area, or it may restrict particular kinds of dogs in specific ways. BSL takes many forms, some of which are very simple, inexpensive and effective.

BSL for pit bulls may include:

  • requiring pit bull type dogs to be muzzled and on short leashes while in public
  • requiring additional liability insurance for both home owners and renters
  • requiring landlord agreements for rentals to pit bull owners
  • requiring warning signs on properties where pit bulls are housed
  • requiring special housing and fencing requirements
  • requiring special training certificates for pit bull owners
  • making it illegal for pit bull type dogs to use designated dog parks
  • making it illegal to rescue or import pit bull type dogs from other areas
  • mandatory spay and neutering to reduce euthanization rates
  • regulations about the transport of pit bull type dogs from one location to another
  • outright bans on the ownership of pit bull type dogs

The intention of BSL for pit bulls is not to reduce simple bite counts. The intention is to reduce the number of life changing attacks and deaths caused by this type of dog.

Many of the jurisdictions that ban or restrict pit bulls apply their restrictions to: (a) the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, (b) American Staffordshire Terrier, (c) Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and (d) any other dog that has the substantial physical characteristics and appearance of those breeds.

“Communities that enact breed-specific laws usually do because a single class of dogs — pit bulls — constitutes a small percent of the registered dog population but commits a large number of bites. This is further compounded by the fact that many pit bull bites result in severe injury.”

KEY COMPONENT: The key component is a law requiring neutering and spaying of both male and female pit bulls, so further breeding is impossible. In some countries like Australia, the goal is for pit bull type dogs to die out by natural attrition.

Currently, more than 900,000 pit bull types dogs are euthanized every year in the United States – more than 6 times the number of other types of dogs – due to excessive breeding. BSL saves not only the lives of victims but the lives of pit bulls.

View an extensive body of information about Breed Specific Legislation.