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Despite opposition from the American Kennel Club, the California Veterinary Medical Association, The Animal Council, the Sacramento Council of Dog Clubs, and a host of other animal organizations, SB 861 passed the Assembly Local Government Committee yesterday. The bill would permit municipalities in California to enact breed-specific laws. However, SB 861 was amended on Wednesday to only allow breed-specific measures that pertain to mandatory spay/neuter programs and breeding restrictions. Furthermore, cities that implement such restrictions would be required to compile quarterly reports on dog bites and submit them to the State Veterinarian.

Proponents of SB 861 claim that requiring spaying and neutering “of breeds most like to attack” and prohibiting breeding of these breeds will promote public safety. AKC does not believe that to be the case. If certain breeds are restricted, owners who choose to be irresponsible with their animals—allow them to run loose, train them to be aggressive, etc—will simply select new breeds to handle irresponsibly. Only rigorous enforcement of strong generic dangerous dog laws that affect all breeds and all owners will help keep communities safe. Coupled with public education campaigns to teach people about responsible dog ownership and breeding, such methods are far more effective at protecting residents that are breed-specific measures.

Should SB 861 pass as amended, the impact on responsible dog owners, particularly purebred fanciers who participate in conformation dog shows and responsible breeding programs, will be devastating. AKC strongly opposes SB 861, and we need your help!

What You Can Do:

  • SB 861 now moves to the Assembly floor. Dog owners should immediately contact their local Assemblymember and State Senator and ask them to oppose SB 861. To find out who represents you in the California legislature, click here: It is critical that legislators hear from their own constituents!

  • Contact the bill sponsor and voice your opposition to SB 861. Ask her to withdraw the bill from consideration.

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.

  • When properly enforced, California's existing dangerous dog law forces all dog owners to be responsible regardless of the breed they own. 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.

  • 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:

AKC's Canine Legislation department

Sacramento Council of Dog Clubs
Joan Gibson Reid, Corresponding Secretary
and Legislative Coordinator

The Animal Council

Despite opposition from the American Kennel Club, the California Veterinary Medical Association, The…