Why BSL is Unconstitutional

Oct 9th, 2013

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) — or legislation or ordinances that single out specific breeds of dog for banning or restrictions — is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th amendment of the constitution (commonly referred to as citizens’ civil liberties), particularly the equal protection and due process clauses. The 14th amendment states:

“No State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Our dogs are our property and they cannot be taken away from us legally unless it can be proven that they constitute a danger to the general public.  Bulldog breeds, breeds most often singled out for breed-specific legislation, have not been proven to be inherently any more dangerous than any other breeds of dog despite what the media et al would have you believe. 

Because it has not been scientifically proven that any one breed is more dangerous than another, BSL infringes on citizens’ equal protection rights. The equal protection clause of the 14th amendment states that certain similarly-circumstanced individuals cannot be deprived of their property, in this case dogs, while other similarly-circumstanced individuals are not unless it can be demonstrated that there is a rational basis, like public safety, for doing so. Because it has not been proven that bulldog breeds (or any other breed) are any more inherently dangerous than other breeds, banning or restricting them would not make the public safer and it would therefore be a violation of the equal protection clause to deprive bulldog owners of their dogs.

Further, because it is at this time difficult to definitively prove breed heredity, BSL also infringes on citizens’ due process rights. Every citizen has a right under the due process clause to attempt to affect the outcome of a municipal or state-imposed deprivation of property (in this case, citizens’ dogs). When BSL is imposed and the owner is penalized yet it cannot be determined that the dog is indeed the banned or restricted breed in question, the dog owner’s due process rights are infringed upon.

Dog owners should know their rights and have a better understanding of why BSL is an infringement of them.