Breed Bans Busted


The state of Nevada has just enacted breed neutral legislation, preventing dogs from being found vicious based solely on their breed.

The state of Nevada has just enacted breed neutral legislation, preventing dogs from being found vicious based solely on their breed.

Paws Up!
To Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada legislature for enacting breed neutral legislation.

Assembly Bill 110 states, in part, “A dog may not be found dangerous or vicious…[b]ased solely on the breed of the dog.”

Today, the pit bull, yesterday the chow chow, before that the Rottweiler or the German shepherd. All these breeds have been defined as “dangerous dogs.” But in reality, a dog becomes dangerous at the hands of his or her owners and not because of the breed group to which he or she belongs. If a community thinks by banning one specific breed of dog, everyone will be safer, they are sadly mistaken. All dogs have teeth; all dogs are capable of biting. How a dog is raised has more to do with the dog becoming a good canine citizen or a menace to the community.

According to an American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) article “A community approach to dog bite prevention,” there are a number of factors that determine how a dog will behave: “…a dog’s tendency to bite depends on at least five interacting factors: heredity, early experience, later socialization and training, health (medical and behavioral), and victim behavior.” Only one of the five factors relates to the genetics of the dog. The rest are factors under the control of the dog owner.

Take Action: Nevada residents, please write your governor and your legislators thanking them for their action in protecting the dogs of your state. Residents of other states where breed specific legislation is being considered, please contact your legislators and tell them that breed bans don’t work.

When you think about it…banning one breed of dog does not eliminate dog bites.

Dog of all breeds can bite and, if left untrained, can be dangerous.

States from Maine to California and in between are introducing legislation that would restrict the ownership of certain breeds of dogs. While most of these bills target pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds have also been targeted. While breed bans get publicity, especially following a particularly gruesome dog attack, they do not get at the heart of the problem—owners who do not take appropriate care of their dogs.

In a study of dog bites published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, September 2000, 30 different breeds of dogs were shown to be responsible for fatal attacks on people between 1979 and 1998. Banning one breed will not stop the other 29 breeds from biting. Banning one breed will not stop any dog from biting. If breed bans work, why have dog bite reports continued to increase? If breed bans work, why after many years in some locales are the banned breeds still being rounded up?

On the flip side, some states are introducing legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from refusing to issue or renew, cancel, or increase homeowners’ insurance based solely on whether the homeowner owns a specific breed of dog. So, while some state legislators “get it,” others do not.

All dog owners need to train their dogs to be good canine citizens and to practice safe dog handling. Better educated owners and well trained dogs will reduce the number of dog bites in a community, not banning certain breeds. When you think about it…all dogs are capable of inflicting harm.

Read our recent Paws Up, “Breed-neutral Laws Work

Victory for Dogs in Ohio

Paws Up!
To Ohio legislators for passing HB 14 and to Governor John Kasich for signing a bill that repeals the 25-year-old state law that automatically declared pit bulls vicious.

Asia, a pit bull, lived at our shelter, Briggs Animal Adoption Center. She gently taught hundreds of children how to safely meet a new dog during education programs. We are happy to report that Asia has been adopted into a loving home.

According to a news story, “The governor … signed the bill that changes a law defining a vicious dog as one that has seriously hurt or killed a person, killed another dog or is among those commonly known as pit bulls. The new measure removes the reference to pit bulls from the definition and requires evidence to prove pit bulls are actually vicious.” In addition, the bill establishes new laws for treating dogs who are deemed dangerous or vicious because of their behavior and not because of their breed.

Breed bans do not work. They leave a community with a false sense of security. Remember, it is the family dog, regardless of breed, who is responsible for half of all dog bites. Educating all family members in proper canine training and care can reduce dog bites.

Instead of focusing tax dollars on banning one breed of dog, we should be focusing our attention and our dollars on dealing with irresponsible dog owners. Spending money on spay/neuter initiatives, canine owner education programs, registering dogs, and maintaining records of bite and aggressive dog incidences will greatly reduce the number of dog bites regardless of the breed doing the biting.

Take Action: Ohio residents, send a note of thanks to your governor and your legislators. Residents of other states, if you have breed ban legislation in your jurisdiction, contact your elected officials and explain why breed bans do not protect their citizens.

The Honorable John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117
Tele. No.: 614-466-3555


Breed Bans Don’t Work

Paws Up!
To Ohio State Representative Barbara Sears for reintroducing legislation that would remove pit bulls from the state’s definition of vicious dogs.

Ohio State Representative Barbara Sears has reintroduced HB 14 which would remove the following language in the state’s dangerous dog law: “Belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.”

Friendly Pitbull

Photo by NHES

Ohio is the only state with a statewide breed ban. HB 14 would change that.

Breed bans simply don’t work. Focusing attention on one breed to the exclusion of all other dogs leaves the public thinking they are protected from X breed when, in fact, it is often the family dog (regardless of breed or breed mix) who delivers the worst bites. Dogs who are unsprayed, unneutered, or chained outdoors for long periods of time also tend to be the ones most likely to be involved in acts of aggression—regardless of breed.

Take Action: Ohio residents, contact your legislators urging them to support HB 14. Residents of other states, if you have breed ban legislation in your local jurisdictions, contact your legislators urging them to repeal such legislation. Dangerous dog laws work; breed ban laws do not.


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