BSL: Which Side Are You On?

You may have heard by now that Cynosport, the annual national event held by the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), happened over the weekend. The USDAA is, according to their website, “the world’s largest independent authority for the sport of dog agility, with more than 25,000 registered competitors and more than 200 different breeds of dogs, including mix breeds.”

And yet, they chose to hold this national event in Commerce City, Colorado – a town with a breed ban (otherwise referred to as Breed Specific Legislation or BSL). They were fully aware of the ban.

It got us thinking: Why would any dog group voluntarily bring their event and therefore a ton of money, to a town that bans and kills dogs based on their physical appearance?

You’re either against BSL – and take your business elsewhere – or you support it. Choosing to hold an event in places like Commerce City is a passive way of condoning bans that are tearing families apart. There’s no free pass on this sort of choice.

So why would any dog group or animal welfare organization purposely choose to do business in an area that discriminates against dogs and their families?

It must be because they think BSL doesn’t affect them.

If that’s the case, then we’ve got some work to do.

There must be a disconnect within the dog community (and perhaps the larger animal welfare community as a whole) if large, national groups think that BSL isn’t something they need to be concerned about or take a stand against.

BSL affects us all, no matter what kind of dog we have. In fact, it affects everyone, whether or not they even own a pet.

While it’s true that BSL discriminates against certain dogs and certain owners, it does one thing across the board: BSL jeopardizes everyone’s safety equally.

BSL is not a “pit bull” dog issue. It’s not something that only affects “pit bull” dogs and their families. BSL denies all of us the opportunity to live in a safe, humane community.

So why are “pit bull” dog advocates often alone at the plate, standing up against BSL so that everyone will benefit from fair and equal policies?

Why are they the only ones boycotting events like the USDAA’s Cynosport? Where’s the group outrage?

Perhaps it’s time to get clear on how BSL fails all of us and why we all need to step up to the plate together:

  • BSL is ineffective and expensive (your tax dollars are being wasted). It has never been proven to increase public safety. Learn more about how BSL fails here.
  • BSL is time-consuming and nearly impossible to enforce. Animal control officers must spend time and resources seizing and destroying family dogs, based only on their physical appearances, rather than focusing their efforts on protecting the community from truly dangerous animals.
  • BSL doesn’t treat all citizens equally. Every citizen deserves to be protected from ALL reckless dog owners, regardless of what kind of dog they own. BSL only targets certain breeds or breed mixes, based only on how they look and not based on how a dog actually behaves. Every dog owner should be held equally accountable.
  • BSL has targeted more than 30 different breeds of dogs – from Boston Terriers and Chihuahuas to Siberian Huskies and Great Danes, plus countless mixed breed dogs. Think your dog is safe? BSL is a slippery slope and your dog might be the next victim. See what happened when one woman’s mixed breed dog was reported to be a “pit bull” dog.
  • BSL and “no kill” are incompatible. Cities can’t claim to be “no kill” if a breed ban is in place. Euthanizing any dog identified as a banned breed, regardless of the dog’s individual temperament, is incompatible with the “no kill” philosophy. Forward thinking animal welfare policies don’t allow for discrimination.
  • BSL creates an atmosphere of fear. Families who can’t move to other towns wind up hiding their dogs. Neighbors get the message that “those dogs” aren’t safe and look at their neighbor’s dogs differently. Myths, lies, and hype take the place of facts, truth, and personal experiences. Fear replaces logic.
  • BSL perpetuates myths. BSL suggests we can accurately identify a dog’s breed based on their looks and that a dog’s breed is an accurate predictor of behavior. Science, like this analysis from the AVMA, has repeatedly shown that both of these concepts are false. We cannot accurately i.d. a dog based only on their physical appearance. And we cannot predict or assume to know how a dog will act in the future, based only on their breed.

Breed Specific Legislation fails us and our communities. Clearly, it’s not just “pit bull” dogs that benefit from putting an end to BSL. Everyone benefits when breed neutral laws, that hold ALL reckless dog owners accountable for their actions, are in place. It’s in all of our best interests to defeat BSL.

Defeating BSL makes the world a better, safer, more humane place for ALL dogs and all humans. Those of us with “pit bull” dogs can’t get there without the help and support of the wider dog community.

So all of us, especially dog lovers involved in pet related businesses, dog sporting associations, and animal welfare groups, need to take a stand against BSL and say: We want safe, humane communities and we won’t stand for or support this discrimination.

If you believe that all dogs should be treated fairly and equally, please stand with us.

Here’s how:

  • Boycott towns that have BSL: don’t hold conferences, competitions, or events in these towns. Take your money to places that don’t discriminate. Money talks.
  • Don’t be silent. It could be your dogs next. Help us stop the cycle of discrimination now, so that no other group of dog owners ever has to take up this fight again. Join “pit bull” dog families in your town and demand fair and effective breed neutral polices. Let your policy makers know that you won’t stand for discrimination and ineffective laws that compromise everyone’s well being.

“Pit bull” dog families and advocates can’t defeat BSL without your help.

Please help us stand up for all dogs.

You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.

To download a copy of this poster, please visit:


  1. Don’t some BSL ordinances include a detail that a dog of a prohibited breed can temporarily be in town for a competition or other business? If that’s the case with this, then hopefully the pit bull type dogs in the event will help shed light on the positive potential of those dogs.

  2. This is a great article. Can I just ask that you guys define BSL in future articles for those not in the know (maybe just with an asterisk and a mini summary in the margin or at the bottom)? We would love to print this out for lobby reading material, but since most non-pit owners dont think BSL impacts them, they are not likely to know what it stands for or encompasses. Thanks!