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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

On Friday, June 2nd, 2017, Delaware Governor John Carney (D) signed House Bill 13, which is intended to protect the rights of responsible Delaware dog owners by prohibiting any dog from being declared “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous” under state law simply based on the dog’s breed. The bill would also prohibit municipalities from enacting laws or regulations based on a dog’s breed.

By enacting this law, which was supported by the AKC, Delaware follows 18 states that have adopted similar breed specific bans meant to prevent discrimination. Delaware’s neighboring state’s New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have also passed similar laws.

This is an important trend in the fight to protect the rights of responsible dog owners. The American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Control Association, the American Bar Association, and other respected national organizations oppose breed-specific laws. AKC believes a dog should be judged by its deeds, not its breed and supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws. AKC believes that breed-specific legislation (BSL) is akin to racial profiling for dogs. It unfairly penalizes responsible dog owners without holding owners of truly dangerous dogs accountable.

Laws prohibiting BSL may also have a positive impact on animal control and even shelter population. BSL can force animal control officers to become dog breed identification experts and to spend their time enforcing laws for specific breeds, rather than focusing on true animal problems in the community. It also places the emphasis on a dog’s appearance, rather than on the dog’s behavior and punishes responsible dog owners simply because of the dog they choose to own regardless of the dog’s behavior. As a result, many dogs end up in the shelter as owners cannot comply with the restrictions (or even ban) placed on their dog because of its appearance.

AKC believes a community truly wants to fix the problem of dangerous dogs, breed specific legislation is not the solution. We applaud Delaware for passing House Bill 13, and hope to see more legislatures join these 19 states in protecting the rights of responsible dog owners and innocent dogs.

The AKC Government Relations Department is available to help communities develop dangerous dog policies that properly protect citizen and responsible dog owners. To learn more about AKC’s position on breed-specific legislation, visit our “Key Issues” section of the AKC Legislative Action Center.