About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs per year in the United States, so it’s not surprising that some states have enacted breed-specific legislation (BSL) laws as a means to curb dog bite injuries. According to Cannon Law, dog bite injuries can cause serious injuries such as infections, disfigurement, and amputations. However, BSL is controversial in terms of its implementation and results. In this post, we’ll explore the specifics of BSL laws in Colorado and how these regulations have changed over time.
Colorado’s BSL Laws
Colorado State has enacted BSL laws that target specific breeds. The severity of the regulations ranges by city, however, instead of the state level. But certain states, such as New York, Texas, and Illinois, have made BSL illegal for the state.
While some cities in Colorado have rules regarding owning certain dog breeds, others ban residents from owning certain breeds entirely. Breeds commonly affected by this legislation include pit bulls, rottweilers, and German shepherds.
BSL is a somewhat recent issue in Colorado. Denver, for example, first enacted BSL in 1989 as a response to two deadly dog attacks. This made it illegal for residents to own, transport, or sell pit bull breeds in the city. Animal welfare groups would challenge the constitutionality of the ban for years. In 2020, the law was challenged and revised to allow pit bulls with certain restrictions–requiring pit bull owners to obtain a special permit for their dogs.
Several towns in Colorado still have strict BSL laws that prohibit dog breeds, such as Aurora, Commerce City, Fort Lupton, and Louisville. According to the Animal Legal & Historical Center, in Aurora, a hefty list of breeds are restricted, including.
- American Bulldog
- Dogo Argentino
- Canary Dog
- Presa Mallorquin
- Tosa Inu
- Cane Corso
- Fila Brasileiro
- or, any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds.
Have BSL Laws Helped Prevent Dog Bite Injuries?
The research on BSL and its effect on dog bite injuries has yielded mixed results, and the efficacy of the laws is a matter of ongoing debate. Several studies have been conducted to assess the impact of BSL on dog bites, but the results have been inconclusive. While some studies suggest that BSL may lead to a decrease in dog bite injuries, others show no significant effect. Other factors such as responsible pet ownership, proper socialization, and education on dog behavior, play significant roles in preventing dog bite incidents.
Are There Alternatives to Breed Specific Legislation?
Many critics push for responsible dog ownership as an alternative to breed-specific legislation. They argue that the issue of aggression begins with training, not the breed of dogs themselves. Additionally, they say it is unfair to discriminate against certain breeds. One common point is that some people will keep these dogs regardless, and may not allow their dogs enough exercise or time outside for fear of getting in trouble.
Breed-specific legislation poses a multifaceted challenge, both within Colorado and on a global scale. Given its recent emergence and controversial nature, further investigation into its efficacy is likely, and there is a possibility of future modifications to the law within states.