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Breed-specific legislation Legal Action Fund

We’re holding cities and towns with breed-specific legislation accountable by taking them to court on behalf of dog owners. 

Our goal is to eradicate breed-specific legislation in the United States and we won’t stop until we do.

Our Approach to Ending BSL

It is our position that breed-specific legislation violates the 5th and 14th amendments. These bans often include a variety of dogs, not just those perceived to be “pit bulls.” It is also a way for governments to covertly discriminate against marginalized individuals.

To end these laws and expose their discriminatory nature, we have hired a national law firm well-versed in constitutional law and our lawyers have a thorough understanding of canine science.

Our Current Court Cases

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Williston, North Dakota

Williston’s “pit bull” dog ban has been in effect since 1987. In that time, it has been arbitrarily enforced based on animal control officers’ subjective opinion of what constitutes a “pit bull.” Fines and charges vary and seem to impact underserved communities more negatively. This is consistent with what we know of breed-specific legislation – it is a way for officials to enact discrimination against citizens.

Witnesses were deposed in May 2022. You can read all of them and learn more about the case here.

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Council Bluffs’ “pit bull” dog ban was established in 2004. Since then, it has violated the constitutional rights of dog owners. We’re helping local dog owners take the city to court, because no one should have to choose between their family member and their home.

Lawsuit filed

Keota, Iowa

Williston’s “pit bull” dog ban has been in effect since 1987. In that time, it has been arbitrarily enforced based on animal control officers’ subjective opinion of what constitutes a “pit bull.” Fines and charges vary and seem to impact underserved communities more negatively. This is consistent with what we know of breed-specific legislation – it is a way for officials to enact discrimination against citizens..

We requested that the City of Keota disclose the data set used in their cited research. They have failed to present this data.

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Current Investigation

Little Rock, Arkansas

We made a FOIA request for copies of breed-specific related citations. Our staff is currently going through those. We will make any additional requests as necessary.

Most Recent Win

Sioux City, Iowa

We invested $300k in our first groundbreaking lawsuit in Sioux City where, until November 25, 2019, it was legal for the government to take your pet away simply because of what your dog looks like.

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Past Cases

We’ve been working within the legal system to end BSL since 2007 with Dias v Denver. The case ended when the dog owners accepted a settlement but not before the federal district court hinted in its opinion that BSL violates the 5th and 14th amendments.

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Result: Repeal and payment of $14k in fees/costs

Result: repeal and some financial payment

Result: Repeal and financial payment

Result: Repeal and financial payment

Result: Judge found that the city was in violation of the ADA.

How can you help?

Donate to help fund our outreach campagins and our grantee programs.

Help us collect data about the personal impact of breed restrictions, including BSL, by taking our survey.

Download and read our Breed-specific legislation toolkit, full of research and other information to help you advocate on behalf of families affected by these policies.

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