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As part of its effort to protect dog breeds from extinction, the U.S. government and several animal protection and animal welfare groups have issued a joint petition calling for the complete elimination of the breed-specific legislation. The petition, which includes more than 5,000 signatures, was filed in September 2011 by the ASPCA, American Kennel Club and International Fund for Animal Welfare, and reads:

“We, the undersigned organizations, urge the U.S. Congress to work with public health and public education organizations to work out the best way for the United States to reduce the number of breed-specific legislation.”

The petition specifically cites the American Kennel Club’s decision to eliminate breed-specific legislation in 2007.

Read the official statement from the ASPCA here.

Can I visit a breeder and adopt from them?

The American Kennel Club adopted breed-specific legislation in 1997, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Buehler v. American Kennel Club. Until that time, the American Kennel Club and associated groups that promote dogs as companions to humans made a distinction between “pet” and “ownership.” The breed-specific legislation made it illegal to have a dog that was used for more than 12 consecutive hours a day in the course of her natural life.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 1 million dogs die on U.S. farms and animal shelters every year as a result of breed-specific legislation. The ASPCA estimates that in 2004, 3,959 dogs in America lived in homes that did not have the genetic purity required by the law.

In July, 2006, the ASPCA announced it would be removing breed-specific legislation from its website. This comes after several lawsuits from breeders and animal shelters claiming ownership of dogs that do not fall under the purview of the breed legislation.
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Do breed-specific laws harm dogs that are currently living?

There is no reliable data on the incidence of genetic issues or disease associated with any breeds of dogs. However, according to a 2012 study conducted at the University of Toronto, approximately 12 percent of dogs in shelters have certain genetic markers associated with disease and 1.8% of dogs have certain behavioral disorders.

So is breed-specific legislation dangerous to puppies?

Generally, it is not in a dog’s DNA to have problems, and breed-specific legislation would reduce the chances of problems occurring in the first place.

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