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25 Animal L. 51 (2018-2019)
The Black Man's Dog: The Social Context of Breed Specific Legislation

handle is hein.journals/anim25 and id is 57 raw text is: 








THE BLACK MAN'S DOG: THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF
              BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION


                                 By
                            Ann Linder*


       Hundreds of communities throughout the United States have imposed
   breed-specific dog laws that prohibit 'pit bulls' in the name of public safety.
   This Article examines the relationship between pit bulls and people of color
   incorporating new research to argue that these laws may be rooted in racial
   bias. In such instances, breed-specific bans function as a means of keeping
   minorities out of majority-white neighborhoods. Finally, this Article sug-
   gests that if true ownership data mirrors the perceived ownership distribu-
   tion measured here, such laws may be susceptible to challenge under the
   Fair Housing Act if it can be shown that they disproportionately exclude
   minority residents.

     I. INTRODUCTION    ......................................... 51
     II. BREED-SPECIFIC LEGISLATION ........................ 52
     III. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ............................ 55
     IV. DOG BITES OVER TIME ................................. 58
     V. BREED-SPECIFIC LEGISLATION TODAY ................ 59
     VI. PERCEPTIONS ABOUT OWNERSHIP ................. 59
   VII. LEGAL CHALLENGES AND THE FAIR HOUSING ACT ... 64
   VIII. CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS: AN ANALOGY ...... 70
   IX.  CONCLUSION    ........................................... 72

                        I. INTRODUCTION

    Breed-specific bans have been implemented in over 1,000 commu-
nities across America.' These laws prohibit citizens from owning cer-
tain types of dogs, so-called 'banned breeds.' Most commonly, this
legislation targets 'pit bull' terriers, reputed to be more physical and
violent than other breeds. Individuals who own dogs of this kind where
legislation is enacted must either surrender their animals or move to a

   * © Ann Linder 2018. Legislative Policy Fellow, Harvard Law School's Animal Law
and Policy Program. J.D., Stanford Law School, 2017; M.S., Tuft's Center for Animals
and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 2014. I am grateful
to Dr. Rob MacCoun for his research expertise and direction. The views expressed in
this article are solely my own.
   1 Estimated U.S. Cities, Counties, States and Military Facilities with Breed-Specific
Laws, DOGsBITE.ORG (Oct. 12, 2011), https://www.scribd.com/doc/56495216/Estimated-
U-S-Cities-Counties-States-and-Military-Faciities-with-Breed-Specific-Pit-Bul-Laws
[https://perma.cc/X5TK-AW7Y] (accessed Sept. 2, 2018).

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