Checking Breed Restrictions

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PitbullYou’re making plans for your spring getaway with your four-legged family member. Reservations at a dog-friendly hotel. Check. Packing of everything from immunization records to dog food. Check.

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But did you check to see if your destinations—including the places you’ll be stopping along the way—have any restrictions on your dog’s breed? Breed-specific legislation or BSL is a law that prohibits dogs based on breed or perceived breed, and researching it is an important part of your trip planning.

What is BSL?

If you have a pit bull-type dog, it’s extremely important that you do a little extra trip research to ensure that you won’t have difficulties at your destination or at any stops along the way. For some locations, that list includes more than pit bull-type dogs but many other breeds including Akitas, Dobermans, Rottweilers, American Bulldogs, and others, depending on the location.

Just what does BSL mean to pet travelers? Again, that depends on the location and on the specific law. In some cities, you’ll be required to muzzle your dog, even though your dog has no bite history. Other cities, such as Denver, are far stricter. you are prohibited from having a pit bull-type dog and risk your dog’s life by bringing it into the city.

In 2012, the White House responded to a petition calling for an end to BSL by saying, “We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.” The official statement went on to say, “In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it’s virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds.”

Identifying Cities with BSL

BSL continues in cities in both the United States and Canada as well as other parts of the world. If your dog is a “bully breed” type dog (including a mixed breed dog with a larger head or neck), it’s important to check the list of cities with BSL before you make your pet vacation plans.

You’ll find an updated list of cities across the US with BSL at wiki with information on the individual regulations of the BSL cities. If you’ll be traveling in Canada, know that pit bull-type dogs are prohibited in Ontario plus many cities (including Winnipeg) in Manitoba. Wikipedia has a list of BSL worldwide as well.

Hotel and Campground Restrictions

Along with official BSL on a city or larger level, breed restrictions can also impact your stay at some hotels and campgrounds. Some accommodations do not permit “bully breed” type dogs. When you reserve a stay, be sure to explain not only the weight of your dog but breed to forgo any problems before arrival. As with all travel plans for your pets, be sure to take down the name of the person you spoke with and carry all details of your reservation with you on your trip.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

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  • How sad this is a fact!!! We travel in a motorhome with our dogs (border collies/pointers) and a cat and several times when asked what breed dogs we have, they said “good – because we don’t allow certain breeds” at which point I will say “then it won’t be necessary to continue this conversation – I don’t have what you call a bully breed but we don’t stay in places that discriminate”.
    When will this ever change????

  • I feel the same way–we can’t change their rules but we can change where we spend our money! Our Tiki is a mix that includes American Bulldog and Doberman so she falls under the restrictions at some locations. Although she looks more like an Aussie, I don’t want to spend my money supporting places that would discriminate against her if her hair were shorter!

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