There is inevitably tension between the need to safeguard the public from dangerous dogs and the rights of dog guardians to have dogs of their choosing as long as they properly supervise and control their pets. The laws that hold dog guardians responsible for unjustified harm or damage inflicted by their pets should be rational and should not impose bans or authorize discrimination against specific dog breeds without regard to the temperament and behavior of individual dogs. Such laws infringe on the rights of responsible dog guardians and do grave damage to the efforts of shelters and humane societies to place adoptable dogs of prohibited breeds.
The ASPCA supports reasonable “leash” laws and laws that regulate dogs who have caused unjustifiable injury or who present substantial danger to the public. However, the ASPCA opposes laws that ban specific breeds of dogs or that discriminate against particular breeds. These laws unfairly discriminate against responsible dog guardians based solely on their choice of breed. Such laws also fail to achieve the desired goal of stopping illegal activities such as dog fighting, and breeding and/or training dogs to be aggressive. The ASPCA believes that strict enforcement of laws that ban animal fighting, and breeding and/or training animals to fight, is the proper means to address the problem.
Breed bans and the increasingly widespread practice by insurance companies to deny homeowners’ coverage for certain dog breeds virtually guarantee euthanasia of otherwise adoptable dogs by shelters and humane societies. Laws that deny insurance coverage also force responsible home owners/pet guardians to choose between a beloved family pet and insurance for their home—a choice no one should be compelled to make.