Keep Military Servicemembers and Their Pets Together

August 10, 2020

Happy pit bull

Good news for our troops: Congress is on the verge of repealing years of misguided, breed-specific bans affecting the pet dogs of military families. Currently, the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps all have varied discriminatory breed bans that prevent military families from having certain breeds of dogs—like American Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers—on base or in military housing.

These policies—which have no basis in science—threaten to tear pets away from the people who love them when servicemembers are required to transfer to a new location or housing. Members of the military serve our country and upend their lives to move whenever they’re ordered to—they shouldn’t have to give up members of their family in the process. Moving so often is especially disruptive for children, and dogs can provide a valuable sense of stability and consistency.

Thankfully, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have included a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act—a large annual military policy bill—that would remove these breed-specific bans and create a standardized dangerous dog policy across all military branches without breed restrictions.

If retained in the final bill, this provision would align the U.S. military’s policy with the growing number of communities across the country moving away from what is sometimes referred to as “breed-specific legislation”—laws that regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals. There is no evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer for people or companion animals. Fortunately, cities like Kansas City, Kansas; Liberty, Eureka and Springfield, Missouri; Sioux City, Iowa; and Yakima and Everett, Washington, have all recently repealed their breed-specific dog bans.

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

Congress will be finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act in the coming weeks. Please contact your U.S. senators and representative today and ask them to include this vital provision on breed bans in the final bill. Military families—and their beloved pets—deserve the certainty and stability that this change will bring.