Full Title Name:  Overview of States that Prohibit Breed-Specific Legislation by State Law

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Rebecca F. Wisch Place of Publication:  Michigan State University College of Law Publish Year:  2015 Primary Citation:  Animal Legal & Historical Center 0 Country of Origin:  United States
Summary: This document lists the states that prohibit the regulation of dogs by local governments based on breed, commonly known as breed-specific legislation. The laws are divided into two general categories: (1) states that prohibit breed-specific legislation (BSL) in all animal regulation (5 states); and (2) states that only prohibit BSL in dangerous/vicious dog laws (15 states). In total, there are approximately 20 states with some sort of anti-BSL legislation (combining both (1) and (2) together). The pertinent part of the legislation is included in this list as well as a link to the actual laws. A further distinction has to be made in the application of some of these laws in the dangerous dog category. Some laws state that municipalities may not regulate dangerous dogs based solely on breed while other laws simply say that breed cannot be used to prove a dangerous dog declaration. South Carolina has an even broader law that says, "[a]n animal is not a 'dangerous animal' solely by virtue of its breed or species." While this could include a wider array of animals, the definition section of that act limits "dangerous animal" to "an animal of the canine or feline family." It should be noted that no state bans ownership or possession any of specific breed in its state laws.

State Laws that Prohibit Municipal Regulation of Dogs by Breed

Arizona

Connecticut

Illinois

Maine

Rhode Island

South Dakota

Utah

State Laws that Prohibit Municipal Declaration of Dangerous, Potentially Dangerous or Vicious Dog Based Solely by Breed

California

Colorado

Florida

Illinois

Massachusetts

Minnesota

Nevada

New Jersey

New York

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Texas

Virginia

Washington

 

State Laws that Prohibit Municipal Regulation of Dogs by Breed

Arizona

On May 19, 2016, Governor Ducey signed SB 1248 into law. This bill amended A.R.S. 11-1005 related to the powers of the county board of supervisors. Under the amendments, each county board may "[c]ontract with any city or town to enforce the provisions of any ordinance enacted by such city or town for the control of dogs if the provisions are not specific to breed." [emphasis added].

To read the changes, see the Arizona Legislature at http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=1248&Session_Id=115&image.x=7&image.y=8

To read the changes, see "Bill Versions" and click on "Chaptered Version."

Connecticut

§ 7-148. Scope of municipal powers

. . .

(D) Animals. (i) Regulate and prohibit the going at large of dogs and other animals in the streets and public places of the municipality and prevent cruelty to animals and all inhuman sports, except that no municipality shall adopt breed-specific dog ordinances;

C. G. S. A. § 7-148 (statute will be uploaded soon)

 

Illinois

§ 24. Nothing in this Act shall be held to limit in any manner the power of any municipality or other political subdivision to prohibit animals from running at large, nor shall anything in this Act be construed to, in any manner, limit the power of any municipality or other political subdivision to further control and regulate dogs, cats or other animals in such municipality or other political subdivision provided that no regulation or ordinance is specific to breed.

510 I.L.C.S. 5/24

 

Maine

Each municipality is empowered to adopt or retain more stringent ordinances, laws or regulations dealing with the subject matter of this chapter, including the establishment of fees necessary and appropriate to finance the cost of animal control services, except that municipalities may not adopt breed-specific ordinances, laws or regulations. Any less restrictive municipal ordinances, laws or regulations are invalid and of no force and effect.

7 M.R.S.A.§ 3950

 

Rhode Island

No city or town may enact any rule, regulation or ordinance specific to any breed of dog or cat in the exercise of its power to further control and regulate dogs, cats or other animals as authorized by this chapter.

Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13.1-16

There is a similar law under the chapter on Regulation of Vicious Dogs (4-13.1-16).

 

South Dakota

No local government, as defined in § 6-1-12, may enact, maintain, or enforce any ordinance, policy, resolution, or other enactment that is specific as to the breed or perceived breed of a dog. This section does not impair the right of any local government unit to enact, maintain, or enforce any form of regulation that applies to all dogs.

S D C L § 40-34-16

 

Utah

(1) A municipality may not adopt or enforce a breed-specific rule, regulation, policy, or ordinance regarding dogs.

(2) Any breed-specific rule, regulation, policy, or ordinance regarding dogs is void.

U.C.A. 1953 § 18-2-101

 

State Laws that Prohibit Municipal Declaration of Dangerous, Potentially Dangerous or Vicious Dog Based Solely by Breed

California

There is a very general in legislative declaration in spay neuter laws:

(b) Though no specific breed of dog is inherently dangerous or vicious, the growing pet overpopulation and lack of regulation of animal breeding practices necessitates a repeal of the ban on breed-specific solutions and a more immediate alternative to existing laws.

West's Ann. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122330

California also prohibits BSL in the state's dangerous dog law:

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent a city or county from adopting or enforcing its own program for the control of potentially dangerous or vicious dogs that may incorporate all, part, or none of this chapter, or that may punish a violation of this chapter as a misdemeanor or may impose a more restrictive program to control potentially dangerous or vicious dogs, provided that no program shall regulate these dogs in a manner that is specific as to breed.

West's Ann. Cal. Food & Agric. Code § 31683

 

Colorado

(5)(a) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a municipality from adopting any rule or law for the control of dangerous dogs; except that any such rule or law shall not regulate dangerous dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.

C. R. S. A. § 18-9-204.5

 

Florida

Nothing in this act shall limit any local government from placing further restrictions or additional requirements on owners of dangerous dogs or developing procedures and criteria for the implementation of this act, provided that no such regulation is specific to breed and that the provisions of this act are not lessened by such additional regulations or requirements. This section shall not apply to any local ordinance adopted prior to October 1, 1990.

West's F. S. A. § 767.14

 

Illinois

No dog shall be deemed “vicious” if it is a professionally trained dog for law enforcement or guard duties. Vicious dogs shall not be classified in a manner that is specific as to breed.

510 I.L.C.S. 5/15

 

Massachusetts

(a) Any person may file a complaint in writing to the hearing authority that a dog owned or kept in the city or town is a nuisance dog or a dangerous dog; provided, however, that no dog shall be deemed dangerous: (i) solely based upon growling or barking or solely growling and barking; (ii) based upon the breed of the dog; or (iii) if the dog was reacting to another animal or to a person and the dog's reaction was not grossly disproportionate to any of the following circumstances:

M.G.L.A. 140 § 157

 

Minnesota

Subd. 8. Local ordinances. A statutory or home rule charter city, or a county, may not adopt an ordinance regulating dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs based solely on the specific breed of the dog. Ordinances inconsistent with this subdivision are void.

M. S. A. § 347.51

 

Nevada

3. A dog may not be found dangerous or vicious:

(a) Based solely on the breed of the dog; . . .

N. R. S. 202.500

 

New Jersey

The provisions of this act shall supersede any law, ordinance, or regulation concerning vicious or potentially dangerous dogs, any specific breed of dog, or any other type of dog inconsistent with this act enacted by any municipality, county, or county or local board of health.

N.J.S.A. 4:19-36

 

New York

5. Nothing contained in this article shall prevent a municipality from adopting its own program for the control of dangerous dogs; provided, however, that no such program shall be less stringent than this article, and no such program shall regulate such dogs in a manner that is specific as to breed. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision one of this section, this subdivision and sections one hundred twenty-three, one hundred twenty-three-a and one hundred twenty-three-b of this article shall apply to all municipalities including cities of two million or more.

McKinney's Agriculture and Markets Law § 107

 

Oklahoma

B. Potentially dangerous or dangerous dogs may be regulated through local, municipal and county authorities, provided the regulations are not breed specific. Nothing in this act shall prohibit such local governments from enforcing penalties for violation of such local laws.

4 Okl. St. Ann. § 46

 

Pennsylvania

(c) Local ordinances.--Those provisions of local ordinances relating to dangerous dogs are hereby abrogated. A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specific breed of dog.

3 P.S. § 459-507-A

 

South Carolina

 (C) An animal is not a “dangerous animal” solely by virtue of its breed or species.

Code 1976 § 47-3-710

 

Texas

A county or municipality may place additional requirements or restrictions on dangerous dogs if the requirements or restrictions:

(1) are not specific to one breed or several breeds of dogs; and . . .

V. T. C. A., Health & Safety Code § 822.047

 

Virginia

C. No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited.

VA Code Ann. § 3.2-6540

C. No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited.

VA Code Ann. § 3.2-6540.1

 

Washington

A provision is included in the dangerous dog laws, but it appears very limited:

(3) . . . The state may not meet its burden of proof that the owner should have known the dog was potentially dangerous solely by showing the dog to be a particular breed or breeds  . . .

West's RCWA 16.08.100

 

Note on Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-1 seems to imply that Bristol County may regulate by breed in subsection (2)(ii).

 

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