Best Friends Blog

American Bar Association steps up for pit bulls

The American Bar Association (ABA) is committed to establishing model ethical codes, among the many support services that it provides for the legal profession. It is the largest voluntary professional organization in the world, and its resolutions provide reference and guidance not only for practicing attorneys, but also for the formulation and drafting of legislation and local ordinances.

On August 6th, the House of Delegates of the ABA passed a resolution that calls for breed-neutral dangerous dog laws that focus on the behavior of dog owners and their pets rather than breed, breed types, or breed appearance as basis for laws intended to protect the public from dangerous dogs.

I am proud to say that Best Friends senior legislative analyst Ledy Vankavage, who currently serves as the chair person of the Animal Law Committee of the ABA, was instrumental in the passage of the resolution and took the lead in its drafting, along with Katie Barnett, also from Best Friends, Kara Gilmore of the National Canine Research Center, and Rebecca Huss of Valparaiso University Law School. Ms. Huss, it should be noted, was the court-appointed guardian and special master of the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick dog-fighting ring and played a key role in saving their lives.

Breed-based laws, such as the pit bull ban in Denver, Colorado, are legally inconsistent with the bedrock principle of due process because visual breed identification has been proven to be highly unreliable and because such laws ignore the actual behavior of the dog or the potentially irresponsible behavior of the dog owner. Breed laws result in the pointless killing or relocation of thousands of perfectly well-behaved pets who pose no danger to anyone based solely on appearance while leaving genuinely dangerous dogs of other breeds or appearance at large in the community.

Breed-neutral laws, on the other hand, encourage the early identification of irresponsible dog owners who encourage aggressive behavior and known canine behaviors that precede bite attacks and hold owners responsible for preventive action, such as secure property fencing, leashing in public, and other appropriate precautions to protect the public.

The public and the animals affected deserve laws that actually protect them. We are heartened by this common sense resolution by the American Bar Association.


Gregory Castle
CEO, Best Friends Animal Society


  • Janet

    This is wonderful! I only wish I could share this story on Pinterest. Alas, I get a message that the pictures are not able to be pinned. 🙁 Please include pics we can use – help get the word out even more!

  • Anonymous

    Blessed Be!

  • alwaysadogmom

    This is very good news.  It is not surprising what people as a group, who continue to act together can accomplish.  Massachusetts just passed a bill strenthening dog ordinance without targeting specific breeds, increasing training for local animal control, created statewide spay/neuter programs, prohibiting certain inhumane methods of euthanasia, and family pets are now allowed to be included in domestic abuse orders.  This is a giant step!  Mass really does have some great, dedicated politicians who listen.  Remember, if you don’t speak, you won’t be heard.  If you are not heard, then you must continue to speak for those who can’t! 

  • Bdannhardt

    All can say is–Right On!

  • April272012

    THANK YOU!!!   BSL is so wrong.  Is there anything we, as the public can do to support your efforts?   I think I’ve signed every petition out there, but none for the Best Friends/ABA effort.   I really think people need to open their eyes.  The uneducated politicians need to taught.  If they refuse to bulge, they need to be voted out of office  Remember people…THEY WORK FOR US. 

  • Does this mean that apartment complexes cannot have breed restrictions when renting to the public? This also allows for more pits, chows and huskies to be turned over to animal welfare because people cannot find housing that will let them keep their pets.

  • Tanya

    Thank you for all your hard work!  This is a huge victory in helping to end the discrimination against our wonderful friends!

  • Okiedelux

    Please continue your efforts in this regard.  BSL is just so wrong.

  • Djana

    Great first step – looking forward to seeing the repeal of BSL and changes to home owner’s insurance practices for certain breeds as well as acceptance of all breeds in rental units – and holding the owners accountable and responsible.

  • Hoover Dane

    Hip hip hooray!!!!!

  • Drdoolittle

    Big announcement and big words, but Miami just yesterday voted to uphold their long-time ban on pitties. Where was Best Friends during the run up to that special vote?

    • Sherwood Furry

      There are a lot of ignorant people in this country. You can’t expect Best Friends or any one organization to fight them all. We’ve all got our hands full trying to defeat puppy millers, dog fighters, abusers, animal abandoners, and idiots who refuse to spay/neuter their pets. I for one thank God for groups like Best Friends. Heaven knows we can’t count on anything from the politicians anymore.

    • StaffordOwner

      Unfortunately, the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation had little help from outside organizations and only had 3 months to prepare for the vote. Miami-Dade County’s 23 year ban on “pit bulls” was not repealed with the vote, BUT MCABSL has not given up. Just remember, it took 3 attempts to get Mass to ban BSL and it took 3 attempts to get Ohio to drop their BSL. They will continue the fight and they WILL get it repealed! Hopefully if they have an other campaign/vote, there will be some outside help!!

  • Manuela

    We needed your help yesterday, when Miami-Dade county was trying to overturn the BSL legislation…I hope we will get another chance soon, this law is just shameful!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Caste, respectfully: Where was BF when Miami was fighting BSL yesterday?  We really could have used your support to help overturn that legislation. 

  • Deborah

    This is great news! The dogs are not the problem, it’s the people who abuse them. We adopted an abused dog. But with a lot of love, patience and training she has turned into a wonderful, sweet and well adjusted dog. 

  • Kkg17

    Best News! Now if all the states will go along with this…

  • Weeppingwillow

    It don’t matter what the dog is its the owners who make them bad. I have an 18 year old Pitt bull & she’s the best dog I’ve ever had! Excellent that the idiots who retrain & raise this breed wrong should get punished! It don’t matter what the breed is The only thing bad about a Pitt bull is they’re high matience dogs! You don’t want a high matience dog don’t get one!!

  • Catwarrenp55

    Ok this is the first step. Continue, lets guarantee that “banned breeds” is eliminated in all manners and stereotyping. Housing, military bases, towns, countries, attitudes and many other areas being affected by condemning our companions to death, has to be reversed. Someone needs to atone for the sins they have committed to the animals already killed for just “being”. We never learn from history about annihilation of a certain look, religion, race, color or what ever. Please keep all of us informed and if you need any help with protecting our animals. Go after the monsters who treat these gentle souls like employment or entertainment. The Cat & Furfaces

  • Great Work Ledy!  Come to Wisconsin next : )

  • Kathypobloskie

    Thank you Ledy and your team! We have already begun including this resolution in our correspondence to try to make change in our Wisconsin communities with BSL. 

  • Oregonkim

    How do we translate this to housing, such as apartment complexes that have “banned breeds” lists, and in turn the insurance companies who management claims are the reason for restricting certain breeds?

    • Suzypitbull

      We need federal oversight of insurance companies, which continue to deny coverage for various silly reasons, among them dog size, dog breed, property’s zip code, all of which have nothing to do with insurability. 

  • Marla

    Fantastic news!!!!

  • Wonderful news! 

  • WOO HOO ABA~!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Great blog and great news.