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Animal Law: Secondary Sources

Pro-BSL Featured Website

The Primary Pro-BSL authority is located at Though the website is biased in favor of retaining and strengthening Breed Specific Laws, it is one of the only places on the web to find a comprehensive state-by-state, city-by-city listing of municipalities with Breed Specific legislation. This site also tracks news about pitbull and dog attacks nationwide. 

Anti-BSL Featured Website is a good resource to locate news of recently passed breed-specific laws and ordinances. Though their bias is against the  Breed-Specific laws, the site addresses dog bite cases and proposes alternatives for municipalities to consider. Their model non-breed specific ordinance looks like this (from the American Medical Veterinary Association). 



Expert Witnesses

Dog bite law generally requires obtaining qualified expert witnesses for trial. For matters regarding dangerous dogs and vicious breeds, dog behaviorists can be crucial to either the plaintiff or the defendant. The Litigation Profile Suite tool on Lexis Advance is especially helpful for investigating expert witnesses. 

Example: Richard H. Polsky

Mr. Polksy has a Ph.D. in animal behavior from UCLA and is associated with multiple dog and animal behavior associations.

No.of occasions retained as an dog behavior expert in civil cases : Approx. 180

No of occasions retained as cat behavior expert in civil cases : Approx.7

No.of occasions retained as an dog behavior expert in criminal cases: Approx. 10

Division between work for Plaintiff vs. Defense : 50% plaintiff, 50% defense

Number of Depositions given : Approx. 100

Number of times testifying at trial: Approx. 40

Law Review Articles

Westlaw, Lexis, and Google Scholar have an abudance of law review articles and comments on the topic of Breed Specific Legislation. I'll cite to each for a sampling of the results you'll find on these databases and how they'll be helpful in researching the constitutionality, efficacy, and public opinion regarding breed specific ordinances.

1. 74 Fordham L. Rev. 2847, Attacking the Dog Bite Epidemic: Why Breed Specific Legislation Won't Solve the Dangerous Dog Dilemma by Safia Grey Hussain. This article outlines the proflieration of dog bites and dog attacks and the legsilative response to them. It analzyes the constitutional challenges to breed specific ordinances on the grounds of overbreadth, equal protection, under-inclusiveness, and substantive and procedural due process. Hussain calls into question the efficacy of BSL citing statistics and studies that affirm that conclusion as well as provides other alternatives to BSL that accomplish public safety goals without targeting pitbulls and other specific breeds. Citation is from Westlaw. 

2. 13 U. Dayton L. Rev. 279, Banning the Pit-Bull: Why Breed-Specific Legilsation is Constitutional by Sallyanne K. Sullivan (1988). This article is a rather dated analysis of the pitbull, but reflects the concern of many legislatures and city councils around the time breed-specific legislation started to become popular. It outlines the public safety concerns about pitbulls and the rational basis for the using the police power of the state to implement public safety measures, restricting and banning "dangerous dogs" as one of those measures. Citation is from Westlaw.

3. 10 Animal L. 313, Breed Specific Legislation: Unfair Prejudice & Ineffective Policy by Devin Burstein (2004). This article is a critique of the efficacy of breed specific legislation. Burstein argues that breed specific legislation does not serve public safety goals, but rather perpetuates stereotypes about pitbulls and their owners. Citation is from Westlaw.

4. COMMENT: PIT BULL BANS AND THE HUMAN FACTORS AFFECTING CANINE BEHAVIOR,56 DePaul L. Rev. 1285.  This article goes in-depth about the history of the pitbull and the breed's reputation and cites examples of different ordinances that have been passed banning the breed or restricting the breeding of pitbulls. The article also outlines the support and opposition for breed specific legislation relating to both canine behavior and human behavior. Discussing the human side of responsible dog ownership is a key component of analyzing dog bite negligence claims and is directly related to the policies hoping to be served by breed specific legislation. Citation is from Lexis.

5. Student Comment: Should We Beware of Dog or Beware of Breed? An Economic Comparison,10 J.L. Econ. & Pol'y 463. The author of this article carefully analyzes breed specific legislation and dangerous dog laws and compares the pitbull to other breeds in terms of biting and aggression. Dog bites cost Americans over $1 billion dollars annually, yet the author concludes BSL is neither an effective nor cost-efficient way to ameliorate that problem. Citation is from Lexis.

6. The American Bar Association published an article in 2009 in GPSolo magazine that is a good introduction to the topic. Citation is from Google.



Practice Guide Resources

1.128 Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 3d 291, Defending Against Dangerous Dog Classification. Though this American Jurisprudence guide does not solely address pit bulls and breed specific legislation, it does provide a thorough overview of how to defend against "dangerous dog" law claims. Citation is from Westlaw.

2. American Law Reports 80 A.L.R.4th 70.  Validity and construction of statute, ordinance, or regulation applying to specific dog breeds, such as "pit bulls" or "bull terriers". American Law Reports are a helpful secondary source because they provide a basic overview of unsettled or often-litigated areas of the law. They also reference both sides of a legal issue in an objective way. Citation is from Westlaw. 

Popular Press

The Huffington Post has a "Pitbulls" section that tracks BSL as well as other bully breed advocacy issues.For example, this article discusses the ballot measure designed to overturn the pitbull ban in Aurora, Colorado. There are also editorial and opinion pieces that outline a position regarding BSL, such as this article. For a refined search only including pitbull issues relevant to BSL, this page is useful. 

A google news search of "Breed Specific Legislation" will generate helpful suggestions about current stories regarding BSL in the media. This local story from Aurora, Colorado was one of the first results, and it's an accurate representation of the most recent issue in BSL right now: If these bans are ineffective-shouldn't they be repealed? The converse of the issue has also been covered in the news and is easily accessed through a google search. This piece, in the Wasau Daily Herald, discusses the efficacy of BSL and why municipalities should be able to enact such laws and links to an editorial piece supporting BSL.

Searching the "News" and "Legal News" tabs in Lexis Advance is also a helpful way to gather the most current issues in BSL. For example, a quick "news" search of "Breed Specific Legislation" uncovered a press release issued by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that National Pitbull Awareness day was the 25th of October in a piece that briefly addresses the topic of BSL and opines that it is inherently prejudicial and ineffective. An article published in the Boston Globe on October 19th was also available, outlining the issues facing Aurora voters this November. If you search the "legal news" tab, in-depth analysis of the efficacy of breed specific legislation is available. The Legal Intelligencer published an article in June of 2014 addressing the Pennsylvania state law that pre-empts local governments from enacting and enforcing breed-specific laws. Citations from Lexis. 

The American Bar Association Journal is also a good place to look for breed specific legislation in the news. In 2009, a Texas legislator argued that "walking a pitbull down the street is just like owning a gun" in reference to a proposed bill that would prohibit the handling or ownership of pitbulls by persons 16 and under.

*Note: News and Legal News is constantly changing. These sources contain up-to-date information that may reflect changes in the content presented here.