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Dog Bite Laws: What Is Breed Specific Legislation?

Dog bites can be painful and often emotionally distressing, especially since dogs have been our trusted companions for thousands of years. Any dog can be involved in a dog bite attack, and it can be difficult to know when it is appropriate to contact a dog bite lawyer. If the dog belongs to a friend or a family member, or if the bite isn’t too severe, you may feel like you shouldn’t pursue legal action. But in certain cities and jurisdictions, it’s possible that the dog who attacked you was an illegal breed.

Beginning in the late 1980’s, many cities and towns across America began to see a new trend in dog bite attack cases. Reports of large, vicious dogs with strong jaws and naturally bad attitudes became notorious, showing up in headlines in newspapers and on TV. In response, some cities enacted breed specific legislation (also known as BSL) to ban breeds believed to be predisposed to be vicious dogs. The ordinances are very controversial, and have been challenged in numerous municipalities where they have been enacted, but have thus far withstood most challenges.

Proponents of breed specific legislation point to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2000 which concluded that, while any breed of dog may be involved in a serious dog bite attack, certain breeds – such as rottweilers and pit bull type dogs are more likely to kill their victim. These breeds are most likely to be involved in a deadly dog mauling, as opposed, for instance to a poodle or Cocker Spaniel. Based on this study, many towns and cities, such as Denver and counties like Miami-Dade in Florida have passed ordinances banning certain dog breeds. There must be good reasoning behind such measures. Many insurance companies restrict the type of breeds they will cover on homeowner’s insurance policies. The military has taken a strong stand on the issue as well:the Marines ban pit bull dogs from base housing, and the Army, Air Force, and Navy ban them from certain installations.

If you are bitten by a dog, no matter the breed, it’s important to seek medical care even for minor bites. Infection from a do attack can be extremely serious, even deadly. You should also contact a dog bite lawyer if you think the dog’s owner should be held responsible or if you suspect that the dog may have been of a banned breed.

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