Full Title Name:  Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) Table of Related Cases

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Rebecca F. Wisch Place of Publication:  Michigan State University College of Law Publish Year:  2008 Primary Citation:  Animal Legal & Historical Center

This table provides links to cases involving BSL (breed-specific legislation).





Case Name

Citation and Link


American Dog Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Lynn


533 N.E.2d 642 ( Mass. ,1989)


The court stated that, "if identification by breed name does not provide sufficient ascertainable standards for enforcement, then the 'definition' of 'Pit Bull' . . . which is devoid of any reference to a particular breed, but relies instead on the even less clear 'common understanding and usage' of the term 'Pit Bull,' is not sufficiently definite to meet due process requirements." 


American Dog Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Dade County , Fla.   


728 F.Supp. 1533 (S.D.Fla.,1989)


The District Court held that ordinance sufficiently defined “pit bull” dogs by specifically referencing three breeds recognized by kennel clubs, including a description of the characteristics of such dogs, and provided a mechanism for verification of whether a particular dog was included. The uncontradicted testimony of the various veterinarians reflected that most dog owners know the breed of their dog and that most dog owners look for and select a dog of a particular breed. The Court found that the law afforded fair warning of what is proscribed.


Bess v. Bracken County Fiscal Court



210 S.W.3d 177 (Ky.App.,2006)


The primary issue in this Kentucky case is whether a Bracken County ordinance which bans the possession of pit bull terriers is inconsistent with the state law that addresses dangerous dogs. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the ban of breed was a legitimate exercise of police power and did not deny dog owners procedural due process.


City of Richardson v. Responsible Dog Owners of Texas



794 S.W.2d 17 ( Tex. 1990)


The Supreme Court held that city's comprehensive animal control ordinance was not preempted by state Penal Code provisions governing keeping of vicious dogs and establishing preemptive effect of Penal Code.

Colorado Dog Fanciers v. City and County of Denver



820 P.2d 644 ( Colo. 1991)


The court found the ordinance to be a valid police power exercise to protect the health and safety of the citizens since the evidence showed pit bulls to be inherently dangerous.


Dog Federation of Wisconsin, Inc. v. City of South Milwaukee


504 N.W.2d 375 (Wis.App.,1993)


The court found that reference to recognized breeds provides sufficient specifics to withstand a vagueness challenge. With regard to equal protection, the court held that the ordinance is founded on “substantial distinctions” between the breeds of dog covered by the ordinance and other breeds of dog. Moreover, the ordinance is “germane” to the underlying purpose of the ordinance to protect persons and animals from dangerous dogs. Finally, the ordinance applies equally to the affected class of persons owning or keeping pit bulls.


Garcia v. Village of Tijeras

New Mexico


767 P.2d 355 (1988)


The Court of Appeals found that plaintiffs had notice that the ordinance proscribes the conduct in which they were engaged; thus, it was not void for vagueness. With regard to the argument that the ordinance violated substantive due process, the court found that ordinance was rationally related to legitimate village purpose of protecting the health and safety of the community.


Hannan v. City of Minneapolis


623 N.W.2d 281 (Minn.App. 2001)


This case held that a state statute permitting the control and ultimate destruction of dangerous animals does not preclude municipal controls that add to the breadth of public powers without regulating conditions expressly prohibited by statute. 


Hearn v. City of Overland Park




772 P.2d 758 ( Kan. 1989)


The court held: (1) the ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) the ordinance does not violate the due process rights of plaintiffs under the United States and Kansas Constitutions; (3) the ordinance does not violate the equal protection clauses of the United States and Kansas Constitutions; and (4) the district court did not err in dismissing the plaintiffs' claim for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


McNeely v. U.S.

District of Columbia


874 A.2d 371 (D.C. App. 2005)


The Court of Appeals, held that the Act did not deprive defendant of fair warning of the proscribed conduct, as the defendant here was required to know that he owned pit bulls in order to be convicted under the Act.


Toledo v. Tellings



871 N.E.2d 1152 ( Ohio , 2007)


The Supreme Court first observed the deference given when reviewing municipal ordinances and the fact that dogs, while occupying a special place in the homes of many, are still personal property under Ohio law. In light of this, the Court found the state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens against unsafe conditions caused by pit bulls. The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens.


Vanater v. Village of South Point



717 F. Supp. 1236 (D. Ohio 1989)


Village criminal ordinance, which prohibited the owning or harboring of pit bull terriers or other vicious dogs within village limits, was not overbroad, even though identification of a "pit bull" may be difficult in some situations, as there are methods to determine with sufficient certainty whether dog is a "pit bull."


Zuniga v. San Mateo Dept. of Health Services ( Peninsula Humane Soc.)



267 Cal.Rptr. 755 (1990)


The Court of Appeal held that there was insufficient evidence that pitbull puppies seized in a dogfighting bust were “dangerous animals." The only evidence relevant to the puppies' “inherent nature” was the observed aggressive behavior toward each other while caged together and certain possible assumptions about their nature from the condition and use of their mother.





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