Real Estate

What exactly is breed specific legislation?

Breed-specific legislation is laws governing ownership, insurance requirements, and housing or rental restrictions placed on certain animals based on breed appearance. This is usually done in an attempt to prevent ferocious dog attacks. Most breed-specific legislation focuses on “Pit Bull” breeds such as Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Bull Terriers, but not exclusively. Other breeds commonly caught up in breed legislation include Mastiffs, Chows, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Wolf Hybrids. Legislation varies by location and there are no nationally established guidelines to help determine which breed should be placed on a prohibited dog list.

Legislation based solely on race is controversial and varies greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It often faces challenges and changes over time. The breeds affected have also changed as public opinion changes, and the breed is not always a good indicator of the type of dogs that will be involved in vicious dog attacks.

Insurance companies are often the main arbiter of what type of animal makes the list of being classified as dangerous. If a certain breed will not be covered in the event of an attack, many municipalities use these as guidelines for determining which breeds to ban.

Breed alone does not predict what makes dogs vicious. Most of the animals involved in the attacks are not spayed or neutered, have had a history of abuse or were chained, used as guard animals, or are not kept as pets or human companions. Many animals are misidentified as potentially vicious dogs, as determining breed is not always simple or obvious when based solely on appearance. Good animals and look-alike breeds are included in these breed bans along with many well-behaved family pets.

The US military base currently has restrictions on dogs and other animals based on breed. Some states completely ban certain breeds. Others maintain restrictions such as mandatory liability insurance, special registration, and spay/neuter requirements. County and city authorities may also have their own rules, which restrict or, in some cases, prevent the restriction of dogs based on breed, and a community, individual property, or HOA may also set rules on breed restrictions. These rules often overlap or even contradict each other, leading to confusion.

Eventually, ‘dangerous dog’ laws may supersede breed-specific legislation, as dogs of all breeds can cause serious injury and vicious dogs are more often determined by the care and training they receive than by breed alone.

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