AKC urges City of Springfield to Vote NO on BSL Ballot Measure

2018-07-20 | American Kennel Club

The City of Springfield, Missouri will vote on August 7th whether to ‘establish a future ban upon the possession of new pit bull dogs within City limits.’ The American Kennel Club is urging residents to vote “NO”.

The text of the ballot measure is as follows:

“Shall the City of Springfield establish a future ban upon the possession of new pit bull dogs within the City limits by prohibiting acceptance of any new pit bull registrations and only allowing renewals of existing current pit bull dog registrations by amending the Springfield City Code, Chapter 18, ‘Animals,’ Article II, ‘Dogs, Cats and Ferrets,’ Division 3, ‘Prohibition of Pit Bull Dogs,’ by amending Section 18-98, ‘Additional Regulations,’ through the addition of such language to said section and designating an effective date?”

Currently, the City of Springfield has some restrictions on pit bull-type dogs, such as mandatory spay and neuter, additional licensing fees, and signage at each entrance of homes with pit bulls stating “Pit Bull Dog,”. Under current law, all pit bull dogs must also be muzzled when off their owner’s property, including dogs that are visiting or passing through the city. Current city statute defines a pit bull dog as "any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier" or any dog that closely resembles any of these breeds.

The American Kennel Club and the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners have supported bills at the state legislature that would outlaw Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), but to date, these bills have not passed. A similar vote on BSL took place in Aurora, Colorado in 2014, but unfortunately, BSL remains the law in that city.

The AKC opposes breed-specific laws, as they do not address the underlying problem of irresponsible ownership. Breed-specific dangerous dog laws are tantamount to racial profiling for dogs. They unfairly penalize responsible dog owners and exacerbate community dog issues because they do not hold all dog owners equally accountable for the actions of their dogs. A better solution is to craft laws that address the actions of specific dogs and their owners, rather than to ban an entire breed. 

AKC’s concerns regarding breed specific legislation include:

  • Breed-specific legislation unfairly targets responsible dog owners and innocent dogs.  Dog owners should have the right to own the dog that is the right fit for them and their family, as long as they do so in a responsible manner.  They should not be punished, and their pet should not be impounded or euthanized, simply because of what the dog looks like.  The emphasis should be on responsible dog ownership for ALL dog owners – regardless of the dog they choose to own.
  • Breed-specific legislation hinders community safety.  BSL places the emphasis on a dog’s appearance rather than its behavior.  To truly protect the community, animal control and law enforcement should be able to focus on a dog’s specific actions, regardless of its appearance. 
  • Breed-specific legislation is costly for the community and taxpayers.  Dogs that are declared a “restricted breed” would likely be impounded by the city.  This is true in similar locations, such as Aurora, where they are housed and/or euthanized at taxpayer’s expense. 

The AKC urges Springfield residents to vote “NO” to prevent discrimination based on appearance and to support responsible dog ownership, regardless of breed.

For more information and talking points on this issue, visit the Breed-Specific Legislation Key Issues page in the AKC Government Relations Legislative Action Center.


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