Search Menu

Despite opposition from concerned dog owners and fanciers at a public hearing in Boston on Thursday, April 29th, legislators appear resolute in their support of a breed-specific ordinance. The proposal now heads to committee for further consideration. If enacted, the measure would:

  • Require residents to register their “pit bulls” with the city at a cost of $50 annually. Pit bulls are defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, or any mix of those breeds.
  • Limit residents to a total of two pit bulls.
  • Require owners to display a sign on their property stating a pit bull is located on the premises. Dogs must also be leashed and muzzled when in public.

Violators will be subject to a $100 fine and the pit bull will be immediately impounded. Exemptions are provided for animals participating in contests, shows or exhibitions within city limits, but animals may not remain in the city for more than two weeks.

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. Boston dog owners are strongly urged to contact the City Council and express their opposition to the ordinance. The measure may come up for a vote later this month, so there is no time to lose!

Boston City Council
1 City Hall Plaza
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02201
Phone: 617-635-3040
Fax: 617-635-4203

To find out who your Councilor 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, 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:

Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs
and Responsible Dog Owners

AKC's Canine Legislation department

Despite opposition from concerned dog owners and fanciers at a public hearing in Boston on…