Does Breed-Specific Legislation Reduce Dog Bites? Illinois Cities’ Ordinances

Pit bulls are considered one of the most dangerous dog breeds across the country. We hear stories every day about a pit bull or similar breed attacking a person and causing serious personal injuries. For more information on the most dangerous dog breeds, visit our page on dog bites and animal attacks HERE and our previous blog HERE.

To combat the dog attacks by pit bulls and similar dangerous dog breeds, many cities across the country have enacted breed-specific legislation, banning dangerous breeds, including many cities in Illinois. In Barry, Illinois, the local city ordinance completely bans pit bulls within the city limits.  The ordinance defines a “pit bull dog” as any (1) bull terrier breed, (2) Staffordshire bull terrier, (3) American pit bull terrier, (4) American Staffordshire terrier, and (5) any dog mixed with the listed breeds. Under the ordinance, a person found possessing a pit bull within the city limits is subjected to a fine of up to $750.00.

Similarly, the Village of Buffalo Grove “restricts” two dangerous breeds – pit bulls and rottweilers in its local city ordinance. Under the ordinance, the owner of a pit bull or rottweiler must install a “special enclosure” and keep the dog in the enclosure at all times the dog is not inside the owner’s residence. Furthermore, the owner must display signage on their property warning the public of the dog’s presence.

Even though Prospect Heights, Illinois, has not banned pit bulls outright, the local city ordinance defines pit bulls as dangerous dogs. Under the ordinance, a dangerous dog is “any dog with a known propensity , tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, or cause injury to, or to otherwise endanger the safety of humans or other domestic animals; or …any dog which is a ‘pit bull terrier’, which shall herein be defined as any American pit bull terrier or Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier.” By defining pit bulls as “dangerous” the city ordinance requires pit bulls and other dangerous dogs to be confined in an enclosure at all times and post warning signs on the owner’s premises to alert the public of the dangerous dog. By doing so, Prospect Heights has “restricted” pit bulls similar to the Village of Buffalo Grove.

According to the Washington Post, there is not much research showing that breed-specific legislation decreases dog bites. The article states that breed-specific bans create a false sense of security. People believe that if a certain breed is no longer in their city, they will no longer have to worry about being attacked by a dog and will not remain as vigilant around dogs as they would if there was no breed-specific ban.

The National Canine Research Council points at factors other than a dog’s breed, as contributing causes to dog bites. In its study of dog bite-related fatalities, researchers found that certain factors, such as failure to control the dog, interaction with an unfamiliar dog, unaltered dogs, mismanaged dogs, and abused dogs contributed to the likelihood of a fatal dog bite. The study found that no single breed was more likely to injure a human than another type of breed.

If you have been bitten by a pit bull or other dangerous breed, you should take immediate action in order to protect your legal rights, regardless of whether a breed-specific ban is in place. Anyone bitten or attacked by the dog should go directly to the emergency room to receive medical treatment. Then, contact the DuPage County dog bite law firm of John J. Malm & Associates, to learn more about how you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.