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Pit Bulls: Breed-Specific Legislation And How It Can Help Your Personal Injury Case

Summertime is just around the corner, and, therefore, so is dog bite season. While the cause of this correlation is debatable, it is likely that warm weather makes for grumpy dogs, and days full of free time make for more kids trying to play with said grumpy dogs.

Although many people defend pit bulls, the fact is this breed is the one most responsible for attacks upon children. If your child has been attacked by one of these aggressive breeds, you are understandably upset and looking for justice. Here's what you need to know about recent regulations aimed at restricting dangerous dog breeds, and how these restrictions may increase your chances of obtaining full compensation for your child's injuries.

"What is breed-specific legislation?"

Breed specific legislation is the term for the laws that prohibit or restrict pit bulls and other dog breeds deemed particularly dangerous. There are three types of breed specific legislation:

  1. Breed ban. These laws outlaw ownership of pit bulls. People who own these dogs at the time the law passes are allowed to keep them, but must have them spayed or neutered. This prevents the pit bull population from growing in a particular area.

  2. Automatic labeling. This type of law does not prohibit ownership, but requires that owners of dog breeds deemed "dangerous" follow certain guidelines. For instance, these dogs cost more to license, must be muzzled anytime they are off the owner's property, and must be microchipped. Some cities have enacted further restrictions, such as mandatory insurance coverage, a limit of one such dog per household, and signs posted on the property alerting visitors to the presence of dangerous dogs.

  3. Mandatory spay and neuter. California has enacted mandatory spay/neuter laws in some of its counties, including Los Angeles and San Joaquin Valley. San Francisco has had such laws since 2005.

On this page, you can find a detailed accounting of breed specific legislation in other countries as well as within the United States.

"Is breed-specific legislation needed?"

BSL is a very emotionally charged issue. Many people feel strongly about both sides of these laws. However, when one considers the pit bull's history and bite style, there is no argument over the danger they represent during an attack.

  • The pit bull breed was developed for the purpose of dogfighting. The goal of breeders was to create a type of dog that would fight to the death, even with significant injuries.

  • Pit bulls have incredibly strong jaws and possess a "hold and shake" style to biting. They will shake a victim back and forth and devastate deep tissue. Their bites have been compared to those of sharks.

  • Pit bulls will sometimes not release a victim even if they themselves become unconscious.

"How bad are pit bull attacks?"

While there certainly are exceptions to every rule, the general truth is that pit bulls are instinctively aggressive due to the way they have been bred. This is overwhelmingly borne out in dog bite statistics:

  • Over a ten year period, pit bulls caused  62% of fatal dog attacks.

  • In fact, from 2005 to 2014, pit bulls killed 203 Americans.

  • Children under six represented 88% of all fatal dog attacks.

"What does this mean for my case?"

If you live in an area subject to some form of breed-specific legislation, your personal injury attorney may be able to obtain a higher award for you and your child. Violation of BSL guidelines can make it easier to achieve a judgment against the dog's owner, who was out of compliance with the law. Further, because pit bull owners in BSL-affected cities are required to carry liability insurance, you are more likely to receive reimbursement for hospital bills and ongoing medical treatment for your son or daughter.

As you can see, your cries for justice have been echoed and acted upon already by other dog bite victims before you. Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in your area to discuss whether breed-specific legislation may help your case. You can also click here to continue reading more about how a lawyer can help.