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BSL illegal Why BSL is Unconstitutional Breed-specific legislation (BSL), or legislation or ordinances that single out specific breeds of dog for banning or strictures, 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. Bully breeds and Rottweilers, breeds most often singled out for breed-specific legislation (BSL), have not been proven to be inherently any more dangerous than any other breeds of dog despite what the media would have you believe. Indeed, bully breeds — American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers — score higher than Golden Retrievers on their temperament tests (according to the American Temperament Test Society’s Dec. 2006 statistics). 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 bully breeds or Rottweilers are any more inherently dangerous than other breeds, banning them would not make the public safer and it would therefore be a violation of the equal protection clause to deprive bully or Rottweiler owners of their dogs. Further, because it is at this time impossible 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 breed in question, the dog owner’s due process rights are infringed upon. Breed ban proponents and dog owners alike would do well to know these rights and to have a better understanding of why BSL is an infringement of them.
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