Breed-Specific Legislation Considered in Chicago

Attention Chicago dog owners! Alderman Virginia (Ginger) Rugai has introduced an ordinance that...

Attention Chicago dog owners! Alderman Virginia (Ginger) Rugai has introduced an ordinance that would prohibit residents from owning, transporting, or selling "pit bulls." Pit bulls are defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, or any mix of those breeds. Violators will face fines of $100-1000 and/or up to six months in jail. The measure will take effect 30 days after its passage, and there is no grandfather clause for current owners. Countless responsible dog owners will therefore be forced to give up their canine companions.

The American Kennel Club strongly supports reasonable, enforceable dangerous dog laws designed to keep communities safe for both people and dogs. We believe that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs and that laws should impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners. In order to be effective, however, such legislation should judge a dog based on its deed rather than its breed.

 

What You Can Do:

Immediate help is needed to fight this proposal. Chicago dog owners are strongly urged to contact the City Council and express their opposition to the ordinance.

Chicago City Council
City Hall
121 N. Lasalle Street, Rm 209
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-744-6800
Fax: 312-744-6824

To find our who your Alderman is, click here:

Points to Address:

  • Breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities. An owner intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes will simply be able to switch to another type of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.

  • Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. Breed identification requires expert knowledge of the individual breeds, placing great burden on local officials.

  • Breed-specific laws are unfair to responsible owners.

  • Breed-specific laws increase costs for community. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds would be euthanized at the shelter.

  • Some communities have had their breed-specific laws overturned on constitutional grounds. Because proper identification of what dogs would be included is difficult or impossible, the law may be deemed unconstitutionally vague. It may also be found to involve the taking of property without due process.

  • Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all better ways to protect communities from dangerous animals.

  • Breed-specific legislation is opposed by the AKC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Interest Alliance National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, the National Animal Interest Alliance, and a host of national animal welfare organizations that have studied the issue and recognize that targeting breeds simply does not work.

 

For more information on this or any legislation that affects dogs and their owners, please contact AKC's Canine Legislation department (doglaw@akc.org).