State Summary Report

 Breed Specific Prohibited or Restricted Ordinances

Updated April 2014

This is a summary of statutory and case law provisions that AVMA is aware of addressing the adoption of breed specific local ordinances and state laws.

One state, Ohio, was the only state in the country with breed-specific legislation enacted at the state level. However, in February 2012, the portion of Ohio statute that defined pit bulls as a "vicious dog" was repealed. Fourteen states statutorily prohibit breed specific local ordinances. A review of state case law indicates that nine states allow municipalities to adopt breed-specific ordinances. Other states may also allow breed specific measures. This following Web site (not affiliated with the AVMA) is devoted to the subject of breed-specific legislation and tracks municipal actions as they pertain to breed specific ordinances:

California Allows breed specific ordinances pertaining to only mandatory spay/neuter programs and breeding requirements. Provides that no specific dog breed or mix shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious in city or county ordinances.
Colorado Municipality may adopt any rule or law for the control of dangerous dogs though it may not regulate dangerous dogs in a manner that is specific to breed. However, pursuant to a state Supreme Court decision, municipalities with home rule can adopt breed-specific measures.
Connecticut​ Provides that no municipality may adopt breed-specific dog ordinances.​
Florida Grandfathers any ordinance adopted prior to October 1, 1990 and prohibits local governments from adopting regulations pertaining to dangerous dogs or the implementation of this act that are specific to breed.
Illinois Local government is prohibited from adopting animal control ordinances or regulations that are specific to breed.
Maine Prohibits municipalities from adopting ordinances, laws or regulations that are breed-specific.
​Maryland ​In an action against a person other than an owner of a dog for damages for personal injury or death caused by the dog, the common law of liability relating to attacks by dogs against humans that existed on April 1, 2012, is retained as to the person without regard to the breed or heritage of the dog.
Massachusetts ​No dog shall be deemed dangerous based on the breed of the dog. Also, no city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner specific to breed.
Minnesota Cities and counties are prohibited from adopting ordinances regulating dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs based solely on the breed of the dog.
New Jersey Prohibits breed specific ordinances.
New York Dangerous dog control programs may not be specific to breed.
Ohio State law requires owners of "dangerous" or "vicious" dogs to follow additional guidelines.
Oklahoma Local government is prohibited from adopting ordinances or regulations addressing potentially dangerous or dangerous dogs that are specific to breed.
Pennsylvania Local ordinances dealing with dogs may not prohibit or limit a specific breed of dog.
​Rhode Island ​Prevents cities and town from enacting any regulation or ordinance specific to any particular breed of dog, cat or other animal.​
Texas Prohibits counties and municipalities from placing additional restrictions or requirements on dangerous dogs if they are specific to breed.
Virginia Prohibits finding a dog dangerous or vicious solely on breed and does not allow local governing bodies to adopt ordinances prohibiting a certain breed.

Breed Specific Allowed

Court Cases – Specific to Jurisdiction
Arkansas – Supreme Court of Arkansas found a city ordinance prohibiting the keeping of particular breeds of dogs, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, within the city of Maumelle, was sufficiently definite to withstand challenge as to vagueness. (Steele Holt, Appellant, v. City of Maumelle, et al., Appellees, 1991)

Kansas – Supreme Court of Kansas found a local Pit Bull ordinance 1.) classifying that breed and others as dangerous and 2.) requiring special registration and keeping requirements for such breeds was a legitimate exercise of municipal police power. (Hearn v. City of Overland Park, 1989)

Iowa – Supreme Court of Iowa upheld a municipal ordinance classifying pit bulls and other breeds as "vicious dogs" and requiring specific licensing and keeping standards for such breeds. (American Dog Owners Association, Inc.; Responsible Dog Owners of Iowa, Inc.; and Roger Anderson, Appellants, v. City of Des Moines, Appellee., 1991)

Maryland- Appellate court applied strict liability against an owner who owns a pit bull or a pit bull cross who attacks a human. When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous. (Tracey v. Solesky, Maryland Court of Appeals, Sept. 2012)  In April 2014, HB 73 was passed stating that in an action against a person other than an owner of a dog for damages for personal injury or death caused by the dog, the common law of liability relating to attacks by dogs against humans that existed on April 1, 2012, is retained as to the person without regard to the breed or heritage of the dog.

Missouri – Missouri Court of Appeals, held as constitutional an ordinance prohibiting the possession of pit bulls, even where such ordinance did not define the term "pit bull." (City of Pagedale, Respondent, v. Sean Murphy, Appellant, 2004)

New Mexico – New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld a local ordinance banning ownership or possession of American Pit Bull Terriers. (Garcia v. Village of Tijeras, 1988)

Ohio – Ohio Supreme Court found a city ordinance limiting the number of Pit Bulls per household constitutional. (The decision was issued before repeal of the state statute that classified pit bulls as vicious. Toledo vs. Tellings, 2007)

Utah – Utah Supreme Court upheld an ordinance classifying certain breeds, specifically pit bulls, as vicious animals and imposing restrictions on the keeping of such breeds. (Greenwood v. City of North Salt Lake, Utah, 1991)

Washington – local court upheld a municipal Pit Bull/Pit Bull mix ban, finding that it was not unconstitutionally vague. (American Dog Owners Ass'n v. City of Yakima, 1989)

Wisconsin – Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld an ordinance restricting the ownership of "pit bull" dogs as constitutionally sound. The Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to review that Court's decision. (Dog Federation v. City of South Milwaukee, 1993)

Source:   Staff research, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Department
Contact:  Tara Southwell, State Policy Analyst, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Department, 847-285-6779.