5 Non Breed Specific Bylaws That Are Actually Effective

Say goodbye to breed bans, and hello to a new way of holding owners accountable!

In a previous article, we outlined the key flaws regarding Breed Specific Legislation. The solution to preventing dog attacks is to reinforce responsible pet ownership, and hold owners accountable for their dogs’ actions.

We’ve researched and broken down five dog bylaws that are actually effective, without discriminating against certain breeds.

Here they are!

1. Ownership License 

Location: Berlin

The City of Berlin recently approved a new bylaw that has heads turning. The “Dog Driver’s License” is a new form of dog licensing that the owner must obtain before allowing their dog off leash in public.

Berlin is home to nearly 100,000 household dogs, all of which will eventually have to be legally licensed. For now, the license is only mandatory for new dogs.

To receive the license, owners will have to demonstrate that their dogs are manageable in public and have basic training. Dogs who pass this test will be exempt from stricter leash laws coming into place in the near future, including mandatory leashing for any dog larger than 30 centimetres tall.

The license will cost $112 initially, and a $45 dog tax will be added annually.

This bylaw was created in hopes of monitoring dog owners and their training regime, as well as hold owners accountable for untrained dogs. The new leash laws will also prevent attacks by dogs at large.

Bylaw Information

5 Non Breed Specific Bylaws That Are Actually Effective

2. Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw

Location: Calgary

The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw (RPOB) is Calgary’s way of holding dog owners accountable for their pets’ actions.

The RPOB states that:

  • All dogs must have and wear a City of Calgary license as soon as they reach three months of age.
  • All dogs must be on-leash at all times, unless posted signs indicate otherwise, or are in a securely fenced private yard.
  • Dogs may not be left unattended while tethered.
  • Dogs may only be transported in the back of a truck if the dog is in a fully enclosed trailer, a truck bed covered with a topper, contained in a ventilated kennel that is secured to the truck bed, or securely tethered and not standing on bare metal.
  • Dog owners must ensure that they bring along a suitable means to pick up feces.
  • Dog owners must pick up all feces produced by their dog both on and off their property.
  • Dogs must be under control in designated off-leash areas. This means they must be in sight of their owners and respond to sight or sound commands.

As well, as a dog owner you must ensure that your dog does not:

  • Bite anyone
  • Injure anyone
  • Chase, threaten or attack a person or animal
  • Bark, howl or disturb anyone
  • Cause damage to property or animals
  • Scatter garbage

To the average pup parent, these demands seem perfectly reasonable. Many have stated that Calgary’s RPOB is a great step in the right direction for pet owners, and implore other cities to follow suit.

Bylaw Information

5 Non Breed Specific Bylaws That Are Actually Effective

3. Dangerous Dog Laws

Location: Vancouver Island, B.C.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) Bylaw describes a dangerous dog as “any animal that has attacked or bitten, attempted to attack or bite or chased any person, or animal or wildlife.” This has nothing to do with the dog’s breed.

CRD has put “Dangerous Dog Laws” into effect, holding owners responsible for the actions of their dogs, even when on their own property. “Owners of dogs must ensure their dogs do not harass persons or animals.” If a dog is deemed dangerous, it must be muzzled and leashed while in public, while dogs that “are likely to kill or injure, or have killed or injured, can be ordered destroyed by the Provincial Court.”

Refusal to comply with these rules is considered an offence, and can result in serious consequences, including:

  • Fined Up to $2,000 and imprisoned for five years: Assault charges could be laid if a dog is purposefully allowed to attack a person. This is a criminal offence. Penalty ranges from fines up to $2,000 to five years imprisonment.
  • Charged: Criminal negligence charges are possible if an owner fails to control a dog with vicious propensity. Penalty for criminal negligence causing bodily harm is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. If someone is killed the penalty could be life imprisonment.
  • Sued: Civil Liability. Owners of vicious dogs can be successfully sued for damages if it can be proved their dog caused an injury and if the owner cannot establish they were unaware of this propensity. They may also be found liable for negligence if they failed to control their dog.
  • Not Insured: It is possible that awards can surpass insurance coverage. Dog owners that have knowledge of vicious behaviour by their dogs, and do not inform their insurance companies, may find their insurance invalidated.

These Dangerous Dog Laws hold the owners and dogs accountable for their actions, and prevent repeat offences.

Bylaw Information

5 Non Breed Specific Bylaws That Are Actually Effective

4. Mandatory Sterilization

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Though mandatory sterilization does not address dog bites directly, it does prevent the amount of homeless and at large animals. Sterilization at an appropriate age also reduces the risk of aggression or dominance issues in male dogs, ultimately lowering dog attacks.

Mandatory, or compulsory, sterilization laws are mostly seen in Europe, due to the overwhelming population of stray cats. Cats are required to be spayed or neutered once they reach the age of four months old.

The City of Los Angeles, CA has a mandatory sterilization law for dogs and cats in order to reduce the amount of illegal “backyard breeding.” However, registered breeders with permits are exempt, as well as show and sport dogs.

First time offenders are given 60 days to sterilize their animal, and charged $100 if they do not comply. Repeat offenders are charged $500, and forced to work 40 hours of community service. This is motivation enough to spay and neuter, not to mention the affordable vet care!

A mandatory sterilization law could reduce the risk of dog bites from at large dogs, as well as lower the population of backyard breeder puppies, who suffer from lack of training and neglect. This would result in a more well rounded population of dogs in general, and help convince people to adopt from shelters.

Bylaw Information

5 Non Breed Specific Bylaws That Are Actually Effective

5. Leash Laws For Aggressive Dogs

Location: Italy

After six long years, Italy finally repealed their Breed Specific Legislation. They originally started with a “black list” of 13 breeds, that were completely banned from residing in the country. Eventually, that list grew to an alarming size of 92 breeds, including border collies and corgis.

The people of Italy realized that banning an entire breed of dog after a few incidents is not only completely ludicrous, but ineffective in regards to preventing dog attacks. They adopted a new policy in replacement, restricting the freedom of dogs deemed to be dangerous.

Italy created bylaws based on restricting dogs with previous offences. Dogs, who have proven to be dangerous, must be kept on a leash with a maximum reach of one metre, be muzzled in off leash areas, and be permanently registered as a dangerous dog.

Owners of dangerous dogs must have a proper enclosure on their property that is approved by authorities to house the dog. They must also provide updated photos of the dog, and have a $1 million insurance policy. The home must have a visible warning sign of the dangerous dog, to notify the community of their presence as well.

Bylaw Information

All five of these laws are currently in effect, and working wonders for their community without discriminating against any certain breed. Some of these places have repealed their Breed Specific Bylaws and replaced them with functioning, reasonable laws that hold owners accountable for their dogs’ actions.

This is the first step to working towards a safer world for humans and dogs, where owners are responsible, and dogs are trained properly.

The answer is not to ban breeds, but to ban ignorance and irresponsibility.


1. City of Calgary 2. City Lab

3. CRD 4. New West Record

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  • Mostly a good article. Would be a great article if it wasn’t for #4 — which has been tried in many areas with usually very negative consequences. Particularly in Los Angeles saw a 40% increase in dogs that came into the shelter in the four years after passing Mandatory Spay/Neuter. Completely agree on the other points though, and breed specific laws are completely ineffective.

    • You make a good point. I believe education on the importance of spay/neuter, as well as adoption, would do more good than a law penalizing people for not fixing their pets. There will always be people who refuse to follow rules, and making something like backyard breeding illegal seemingly increases the desire to do so.
      Mandatory spay/neuter is a law that works in theory, but has negative results. Maybe, in the future, a proper plan and procedure will be made to enforce this law correctly with positive results!

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