Pet Travelers Face Breed Discrimination

by Amy Burkert

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Across the United States, municipalities have placed bans or restrictions on more than 100 breeds of dogs and the penalties range from annoying to killer – literally. On our travels, we’ve come across places that wouldn’t allow us to stay because of a ban on German Shepherds. It’s annoying, but I didn’t want to spend my time or money in a place that didn’t appreciate Buster anyway.

Buster's Eyes
What do you mean they don't like me?

In other jurisdictions it’s a lot worse. Denver, Colorado will confiscate a Pit bull from your possession and execute it, even if it has never hurt anyone. The province of Ontario, Canada operates much the same way. It’s unthinkable, I know – but that’s the reality, and when you’re traveling with your pet you need to be aware of what could happen.

Affected Breeds

We find the most affected breeds to be the Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and German Shepherds, but Akitas, American Bulldogs, Chows, Huskies, Mastiffs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Shar-Pei are also targeted. In fact, I started a list of all the affected breeds, but gave up when it passed 100. To make matters worse, some of the laws have very broad language that include restrictions on mixes of the targeted breeds and other dogs that LOOK LIKE the targeted breeds!

Types of Restrictions

If you have an affected breed – or a dog that looks like one – what kinds of restrictions should you expect? Some jurisdictions require owners to carry proof of liability insurance, others say restricted breeds must be muzzled when in public, and some cities, states and provinces have gone so far as to ban dogs of certain breeds from being within their borders. Penalties for violating these restrictions range from fines, to jail, to the confiscation and execution of the dog.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Dog from Breed Discrimination Laws

Here are some steps you can take to avoid any possible conflicts while you are traveling:

  • Check the following websites for maps of the localities with Breed Discrimination Laws to determine which breeds are restricted:
  • If you will be traveling to or through a jurisdiction with a breed discrimination law, call the local animal control office to get the most current information about the restrictions and requirements.
  • Remember that these websites may not be up to date as the laws are changing constantly, so plan for the unexpected. If your dog is an affected breed, or could be mistaken for one, always be prepared to comply with muzzle, leash, and proof of insurance requirements.
  • If your dog looks like one of the affected breeds, having DNA results from your vet proving your dog’s lineage may be helpful.
  • If you find that you have inadvertently violated a breed discrimination law, be polite and do your best to bring yourself and your dog into compliance – even if that means immediately leaving the jurisdiction.

Before you plan your next trip, use the links above to pick a location where you and your pet will both be welcome. It could be a matter of life and death!

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