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Breed-specific laws are also known as “BSL.” They regulate or ban a particular dog breed. In the United States, breed-specific laws may be enacted as part of state or county legislation. Some states may outlaw BSL altogether, while other states have allowed for enactment of certain breed restrictions provided that the laws do not entirely ban a breed.

In 1989, Miami-Dade County passed a breed-specific law banning ownership of the Pit Bull dog breed. A year later, Florida’s state legislature prohibited jurisdictions from enacting BSL. Miami-Dade was allowed to keep its previous legislation.  On August 14th, 2012, this issue came up once again and Miami-Dade County residents were able to vote on whether or not pit bulls should remain outlawed in Miami-Dade county.  Although many voters have complained that the wording of the ballot was very confusing, the result was that 63 percent voted to keep the 23-year-old ban on pit bull-type dogs. The state of Florida is currently debating its 1990 law prohibiting all forms of BSL. Changing this present legislation will allow Florida’s counties to establish regulation and restrictions on certain breeds, without outright banning any particular dog breed.

The ASPCA has clearly opposed all types of BSL. The group maintains that there isn’t any scientific evidence to support one breed being more dangerous than another. Instead, the ASPCA asserts that breed-specific laws have not lead to a decrease in dog attacks. The major indicators of a dog attack are irrelevant to dog breed. They include concepts such as pack mentality, new living conditions, territorial circumstances, effective dog training, and more.

Other cities and states, such as Maumelle, Arkansas and Denver, Colorado, have BSL prohibiting ownership of the Pit Bull breed as well. Additionally, Maumelle legislation extends its BSL to Staffordshire Terriers and Bulldogs. Breed-specific laws remain a topic of heated debate across the United States.

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