End Dog Breed Discrimination

Target: Frank Cownie, Des Moines Mayor

Goal: End mistreatment of dogs based on looks and breed.

Dogs are being labeled as vicious or high-risk based solely on they way they look or their breed. Entire cities have banned them and other communities have placed irrational restrictions on the environment in which these breeds live. These ordinances are creating social isolation and contributing to the public’s irrational beliefs of breed aggression. The most common breeds victimized are the American Pit Bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire terrier, or dogs that look like these.

Des Moines, Iowa allows these breeds within city limits, however does place irrational and costly expectations on the owners. For example, the owner must license the dog with the city and show proof of the purchase of an additional $100,000 liability insurance on the dog in case of injury or destruction of property. The owner is also required to carry the policy on his or her person when walking the dog. Violation of the ordinance will result in the removal of the dog from the home and fines for the owner. Following removal, the high-risk dog will likely be destroyed. In addition, the ordinance specifies the structures in which the dog can be housed, as well as the height and depth of fencing and the maximum length of the leash that can be used.

These laws lead a misinformed public into believing that a dog’s behavior is based on its breed and not its upbringing and environment. Sign this petition demanding the mayor of Des Moines end breed discrimination and do away with breed-specific legislation.


Dear Mayor Cownie,

As the sitting mayor of Des Moines for over ten years, you have experienced many changes in the city ordinance. One change has been the inclusion of breed-specific legislation for which there is no statistical support for effectiveness. In fact, studies have shown that breed-specific legislation is not only ineffective but ends up costing tax payers even more than if the legislation was omitted completely.

The Des Moines city ordinance currently lists the American Pit Bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier, along with dogs that appear to be any of these breeds, as high-risk. This ordinance includes several pages of conditions that have to be met by the owners of such breeds. Many of these mandates are not placed upon the owners of other breeds and simply reinforce unfair treatment of these breeds and their lookalikes.

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior says, “BSL is ineffective and can lead to a false sense of community safety as well as welfare concerns for dogs identified (often incorrectly) as belonging to specific breeds.” We, the undersigned, demand that any and all language concerning specific breeds be removed from the ordinance of Des Moines. Furthermore, we demand that owners of specific breeds not be singled out and required to carry additional insurance and licenses not required of all dog owners. We also demand that punishment for violations of city ordinances, with respect to dog ownership, not include the removal and destruction of the family dog. Exceptions are cases of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect where removal is in the best interest and safety of the dog.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Bowen

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    Breed specific laws compromise the rights of the law-abiding. Such laws unfairly discriminate against law-abiding owners and non-offending dogs (which represent the VAST majority of all breeds).
    Breed specific laws require lay people to make subjective breed identifications, a skill for which they may (or may not) be qualified.
    Such laws are expensive to enforce. Some counties, after realizing the staggering expense of maintaining accused dogs until time of trial, law enforcement and administrative costs, have chosen to repeal their breed specific laws. Prince George County in Maryland county spends more than a quarter-million dollars each year to enforce its pit bull ban.
    There is no real evidence that breed bans lower the incidence of dog bites.
    Breed specific legislation fails to address the real problem: pet owner responsibility.
    Breed specific laws cause those who own targeted breeds to hide their dogs, which if anything, worsens the living conditions of the dogs and makes them all the more likely to bite. (Picture dogs who are crated all day long during daylight hours and only allowed to potty or exercise at night.)
    No one disputes the tragic consequences of dog attacks. However it is economically irresponsible to enact new legislation when adequate laws are already on the books. If existing leash, licensing and confinement laws are not enforced, what reason is there to think breed ban laws will be?

    • Thank goodness the Mayor is taking this on. This is way more important than the homeless issue. Animals first then mankind. Great to see we have our priorities straight.


  3. Teresa Barquet says:

    Deberiamos terminar con la reproducción por razas y el negociado con los animales de compañía


  5. Susan Pernot says:

    Punish the deed not the breed. Pit Bulls are lovers not fighters. Bad owners make bad dogs.

  6. Each and every animal should be evaluated on their own merits not because of the breed. BSL DOES NOT WORK AND SHOULD NOT BE USED IN ANY STATE, CITY, COUNTY OR STATE.

  7. Since the year 1833 there have been 521 fatal pit bull attacks. That is 184 years people. There are millions of pit bulls, if the breed was so bad that number would be a lot higher. It’s a disgrace to blame the entire breed because of a few bad owners. The numbers don’t lie. Don’t do this to the millions of innocent pets. It’s not right.

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