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Dog Breed Restrictions: Best Friends Animal Society Releases Interactive Map

The group is launching the map for Responsible Pet Owner Month.





(PRESS RELEASE) Best Friends Animal Society, the leading national animal organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025, has launched the nation’s most comprehensive interactive online map of breed-specific laws and ordinances across the U.S.

Best Friends is launching the map for Responsible Pet Owner Month, acknowledging that promoting responsible pet ownership for all dogs is more effective at preventing dog bites than breed restrictions. According to the AVMA, dogs are more likely to become aggressive when they are unsupervised, unneutered, and not socially conditioned to live closely with people or other dogs. Dogs require appropriate socialization and training, which are critical parts of responsible pet ownership.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws that ban or restrict certain types of dogs based simply on their appearances. Best Friends’ advocacy team works with legislators, decision-makers and other individuals in communities nationwide to repeal breed-specific ordinances and policies because they fail to enhance public safety, interfere with dog owner’s rights, and are expensive to enforce.

The map uses red dots to indicate locations that have some sort of breed-specific restrictions. These range from outright bans on certain breeds of dogs, to breed-based requirements that might include specific fencing, liability insurance, dangerous dog signage, special collars, tattoos, muzzles and/or increased license fees. The map also uses a gray scale to show how many “wins” in the form of repeals or rejections of BSL have taken place in each state. Twenty-two states—shown in pale orange on the map—have enacted statewide provisions that prevent local governments from passing some form of BSL. A new statewide bill was filed in Missouri on January 5. An additional map shows blue dots for communities that have repealed or rejected BSL.

Housing barriers are the number one reason for owner surrender of dogs to animal shelters, and most of these barriers are around large-breed dogs or breed-specific bans. Eliminating BSL can eliminate many large housing barriers and help further the message that breed has nothing to do with whether or not a dog is dangerous. This will allow more dogs to be adopted from shelters, helping Best Friends achieve its mission of ending the killing of pets in shelters by 2025.

Best Friends seeks to bring attention to BSL and urges citizens in communities with BSL to advocate for change. The focus should be on the behavior of the dog and the behavior of the owner. Innocent pets shouldn’t be targeted just because of their breed. Breed-specific restrictions are also sometimes so extreme that animal shelters struggle to get pit bulls and other similar large dogs adopted into new homes. Removing breed restrictions can remove these barriers to adoption, leading to more dogs finding homes. This is especially important as shelters across the country are facing an over-capacity crisis.


“Most Americans view their pets as members of the family — but antiquated breed-specific laws limit responsible people’s right to love and care for any breed of well-behaved dog they choose,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “In addition, BSL often forces people to give up their innocent pets, displacing loved family pets in communities whose shelters are already full of dogs awaiting adoption.”

Many communities across the country are repealing these outdated ordinances and have instead enacted more comprehensive and effective breed-neutral ordinances that protect people from any dangerous dog, regardless of breed.

Best Friends can help local leaders write more effective ordinances that better protect communities from dangerous dogs while also protecting people’s constitutional property rights. Breed-neutral laws are supported by the American Bar Association, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, the American Veterinary Association, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and the National Animal Care and Control Association because they focus on behavior, not breed.

Concerned advocates can start or join a local campaign to end breed-specific laws in their communities.

Best Friends Animal Society has the most comprehensive, accurate annual dataset for sheltered dogs and cats in the United States, with 80% of all shelters reporting data, representing an estimated 94% of all sheltered dogs and cats in the country.

Around the time Best Friends opened in 1984, U.S. shelters were killing 17 million dogs and cats every year. That figure has since fallen to about 355,000, according to Best Friends 2021 dataset. Sadly, in 2021 the number of dogs and cats killed in U.S. shelters increased for the first time in five years, up 8,000 animals from 347,000 in 2020.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 355,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 4,000 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit



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