California Considers Allowing Breed-Specific Laws

In response to a request from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, Senator Jackie Speier is sponsoring...

In response to a request from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, Senator Jackie Speier is sponsoring SB 861, a bill that will allow local governments to regulate dogs by breed as long as they do not ban specific breeds. Currently, California is one of 12 states that prohibits local governments from enacting breed-specific ordinances.

SB 861 has been assigned to the Assembly Local Government Committee. A hearing has been set for Wednesday, June 29th at 1:30 in Room 447 of the State Capitol.

California's existing dangerous dog law forces all dog owners to be responsible regardless of the breed they own. AKC believes that strong enforcement of leash laws, as well as clear guidelines for identifying and managing dangerous dogs, will promote responsible dog ownership and prevent tragedies from occurring. Simply placing restrictions on certain breeds will not improve public safety - it will only punish responsible dog owners.

The American Kennel Club strongly supports sound, enforceable, non-discriminatory legislation to govern dog ownership, and we appreciate legislators' desire to keep communities safe for both people and dogs. However, SB 861 will not address the root cause of dangerous dogs – irresponsible ownership. AKC opposes the changes made by SB 861 and encourages concerned dog owners to do the same.

What You Can Do:

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 the community. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds could 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.
     

  • 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 Control Association, the ASPCA, 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, contact:

The Animal Council
TheAnimalCouncil@aol.com

AKC's Canine Legislation department
919-816-3720
doglaw@akc.org