Springfield, Mo. Voters Reject Dog Breed Ban

ASPCA commends Springfield voters for voting down proposed ordinance that would have banned pit bull ownership in the city
August 8, 2018

NEW YORK, NY – The ASPCA ® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ®) commends voters in Springfield, Mo. for rejecting Question 1 on the ballot yesterday by a margin of 68 percent to 32 percent. The proposed ordinance would have banned city residents from bringing new pit bulls into their homes and required current pit bulls to be muzzled when outdoors. The measure was originally approved by the Springfield City Council in October 2017, but local advocates immediately recognized the danger posed by this ordinance and collected nearly 8,000 signatures to initiate a repeal of this harmful law.

"This victory is the result of the tireless efforts of a coalition of local advocates who took action to put this question on the ballot and give voters the opportunity to preserve their right to adopt any breed of dog they choose,” said Andy Briscoe, director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Central region. “We applaud these advocates for taking a stand against this cruel, discriminatory law, and we hope other municipalities will follow Springfield's lead to reject efforts that infringe upon the rights of responsible pet owners.”

The stated purpose of breed-specific legislation is to reduce dog bites and attacks, and while many municipalities have passed these laws, there is no evidence that they make communities safer for people or companion animals—in fact, they often compromise public safety. In Toronto, dog bites have actually increased in that city since its breed-specific law passed in 2005.

Breed-specific laws shift focus away from effective enforcement of laws that have the best chances of making communities safer. Responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised and well-socialized dogs should not be penalized simply because their dog happens to resemble a specific breed. 

“Every dog is unique, even dogs within the same breed. Treating dogs as individuals, providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their behavior and not by their physical appearance is the most effective way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together,” said Briscoe. "The ASPCA recommends communities enact strategic 'dangerous dog laws' that address individual animals, not blanket breed bans, and we stand ready to assist Springfield in crafting a new law that will more effectively protect people and pets."

A recent ASPCA poll revealed that 62 percent of Missouri voters opposed the Springfield ordinance, and 67 percent do not believe that local governments should have the authority to impose such a ban. For more information about the ASPCA or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.