{Legal Issue} BSL Around the World

It’s been a hot minute since we did the last Legal Issue post so I figured it was time to get back to business!  This topic is one that likely hits home with at least a few of us: BSL.  A reader asked what International Laws look like and if BSL exists in other places.


 You all remember the Lennox case, right?  In short, Lennox was removed from his home in Ireland after officials determined he was a “pit bull type dog”.  His family fought legal battles for two years, all while he was deteriorating in horrible conditions, along with support from people literally all across the world to save him–he had done nothing wrong.  You might remember seeing pictures of pit bull type dogs with the words “I Am Lennox” –this was done as a show of support.  Ultimately the family lost and Lennox was euthanized.  Up until this point, I can honestly say that I hadn’t really paid any attention to international BSL issues, but this case brought it jarringly to my attention.


Obviously this is a huge topic that could literally fill books, so I asked Rich to kind of give us a condensed version of his research.  Without further ado, here are some “fun” facts about International Laws surrounding BSL:

You may think that our country’s unfair view on certain breeds is so far from the norm that it wouldn’t be duplicated in other countries. While this is a nice thought, the United States is far from being the only country that allows breed specific legislation to be passed by its constituent states. In fact some other countries have gone so far to enact federal BSL that touches every border of the country, and it’s not just pit bulls that are affected by these laws.


For example, the United Kingdom has a law that prohibits four types of dogs entirely from the country. These are the Pit Bull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasiliero breeds. The good news is that the area of Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, is not affected by this ban. But the bad news is that Northern Ireland has enacted its own ban that includes these dogs (this is where the Lennox situation occurred). In addition to outright banning these breeds the UK law encourages voluntary microchipping of dogs and imposes severe penalties on owners of dogs that attack people (including prison time up to two years).


Australia is another country that has a ban on these breeds. Additionally they also include the Perro de Presa Canario. For those that don’t know about these breeds that are banned, for the most part they look like Pit Bulls and Mastiffs, large dogs with defined muscles. Although the Tosa does not look like either type, it is apparently nicknamed the Japanese Fighting Dog. In Australia the importation of these breeds is banned, and any dog that was “grandfathered” in by being there prior to enactment of the ban, is required to be neutered, thus Australia is attempting to let the breed die out (completely die out!) in the country.


Finally, a little closer to home the island nation of Puerto Rico has enacted a similar ban on these types of dogs (although it doesn’t appear that Tosas are included), banning the importation, sale, and breeding of these dogs. When this law was enacted it gave owners eight months to register the dogs that they already owned to “grandfather” them in. Additionally it looks like the legislators there saw the trouble that Miami-Dade had in court defending their ban on “pit bulls” as being too vague, and the Puerto Rican law defines Pit Bulls to include specific breeds, and cross breeds between them and other breeds. Also it gives a physical description of what the banned dogs look like.


Unfortunately this is just a sampling of the breed specific legislation throughout the world, and there’s no end in sight. Venezuela has passed a law that will outlaw American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bulls in 2014. This law was passed in 2010 and the delay in going into effect is probably due to the fact that it is an outright ban and there will be no “grandfathering” in.


Rather depressing, isn’t it?  So what can we do?  First and foremost we can use our own dogs to show what great family members these “pit bulls” and other breeds really are; we can walk the walk.  We can also take the time to sign petitions against bans; we can ask our friends to sign these petitions as well.  We can write letters to legislators and intelligently and politely make a case for our family members.  We can get involved! 

The photos from this post are from the Pittie Party.  It was a wonderful event and if you are in the Tallahassee area and looking for helping throwing a charitable event you should seriously consider checking out my friends at Hire Wire Charitable Even Planning.  They rock; more pictures to come!  And a couple of the dogs featured in this post are available for adoption, so if you are in the market and one catches your eye, please get in touch with me!


9 thoughts on “{Legal Issue} BSL Around the World

  1. I have a not too closely related legal question. If a people friendly dog who is fear reactive towards other dogs is muzzled because it is walked in an area where loose dogs are occasionally found despite leash laws and extendable leashed dogs are infrequently found around a corner with poor visibility, could that be held against the handler in the event that something happened? My view has been “better safe than sorry” while we work on this issue because there have been times where a dog came running at us, but I also don’t want to be held liable when I’m just trying to be responsible.

  2. A town very near ours is trying to pass BSL against us pittie types. This happened after a retriever was attacked by a pitbull and a boxer. But everyone is reporting that both dogs were pitbulls and no one is trying to ban boxers. Mom and dad are going to sign a petition against it and find other people to sign it too. They are very worried about what might happen. I am very worried too, but mom and dad told me they would move anywhere in the world before they let some ignorant foolish people take me away from them.

  3. I think that Tallahassee dealt with this issue several years ago. I didn’t pay a LOT of attention because this was before I had pits. I was at the vet’s with my mom’s Husky when I heard the young vet give a phone interview. She told the reporter that in her opinion, the first dog breed that should be banned was the chihuahua, because they were notorious, unrepentant biters. My apologies to the chihuahua fans in the group, of course.

    I remember there was a public hearing, and lots of people showed up to oppose the ban, and there were petitions for and against. I signed the against BSL, because my mutts were both half “dangerous” breed. One was a chow mix, the other a german shepherd mix. Or sheltie and basenji when talking to insurance companies. 😉 I guess I knew even then that the dog as an individual and NOT a breed determines behavior. Also, that if one day they could ban pit bulls, the next they can ban something else.

    It’s silly anyway. My dogs are two completely different (though closely related) breeds, and both of them are pit bulls.

  4. This is automatically making me wonder what it’s like in my home country. Preliminary googling yielded that there are no such laws yet, but I did find one newspaper article expressing the need for some. I think I might try and write about this with my country in mind. I hope I can do half as well as you did with this post. But, I did come across this post :http://karthikkash.hubpages.com/hub/8-Worlds-Most-Dangerous-Dogs-You-Must-Fear There are just so many ways I want to respond to him. This is BSL in the budding stages and I don’t like it.
    Thank you Morgan (and Rich) for all your research and writing!

  5. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Ontario, which is very close to home. Most pit bull sites advise owners not to even travel thru the province with a pit or any dog that even resembles a pit.

  6. Thank you Morgan. There’s a huge movement to try and reverse this over here in the UK. The Lennox case hit the headlines and a very distressing TV programme was aired that showed just how many dogs are in pounds awaiting a lethal injection, who are there simply because their measurements correspond to those of pit bulls.

  7. Pingback: The Components of Love: | Temporary Home, Permanent Love

  8. Here in Montréal, Québec, Canada, there is BSL varies by neighborhood, random patches on the map basically… In this neighborhood you can own, few streets over, you can’t. Go figure, good luck if you need to move. This is a reason why my pits are abandoned in this city. In Ontario the whole province has BSL in effect.

    I like to walk around with my rescue pit in every busy street jus to ddemonstrate to people just how quiet and loving she is. Luckily in Montréal, most people are accepting of pits, it’s only rare that you cross someone who is apalled… Well in my limited experience so far.

    Thanks for the informative post! Come by to visit sometime! http://mypitbullandme.blogspot.ca


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