In a major victory for dogs and dog lovers in Delaware, breed specific legislation, or BSL, has now been banned statewide.
On Friday, Delaware became the 21st state to enact a statewide ban on breed specific legislation when Governor John Carney signed House Bill 13 into law.
The new law blocks local county and city governments from banning or restricting someone’s right to owner certain breeds or mixed breeds. Essentially, the bill allows Delawareans to own any breed of dog they choose.
Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, are laws put in place by counties, cities, states, or communities that discriminate against certain dogs based on their breed or appearance alone, without regard to temperament or history of aggression. Most breed specific legislation target Pit Bulls, a broad term used to describe breeds including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, or mixed-breed and other dogs having physical characteristics common to these breeds. In addition to pit bulls, many BSL laws target Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and other dog breeds
“HB 13 is in the best interest of public safety,” Patricia Blevins, executive director of Delaware’s Office of Animal Welfare, said in a statement. “It will ensure that laws are enforced consistently across the state, based on the actions of a dog or dog owner, and not a dog’s physical appearance.”
Although the ban on breed specific legislation allows Delaware’s dog owners to open their family to any dog they choose, it does not prohibit landlords or property managers from barring certain breeds from housing, an issue that a large number of dog owners face.
But, Patrick Carroll, executive director of the Delaware Humane Association, told The Dodo that the passing of HB 13 might help. The new law may encourage Delaware’s landlords to rethink their own breed restrictions and encourage families to adopt dogs based on their unique personalities and whether they’re the right fit, rather than basing that choice on their breed alone.