How does the law regard dogs?

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While may think of your dog as part of the family, the law generally sees your pet as your personal property. The best way, therefore, to answer this question is to tell you about some of the laws that designed to protect both the dog and the community at large:

• Breed Specific Legislation: Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws (BSL), a blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds completely in the hopes of reducing dog attacks. The regulated breeds can include American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, English Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, or any mix of these breeds—and dogs who simply resemble these breeds. Many states (including New York, Texas and Illinois) favor laws that identify, track and regulate dangerous dogs individually, regardless of breed, and prohibit BSL.
• Aggressive Dog Laws: Most states in America are known as strict liability states. You will be held fully responsible for any damage caused by your dog. Most states have repealed the “one-bite law” but it does still exist in some places, and there are partial liability states. Consult an attorney to sort out your liability if your dog bites someone.
• Pooper Scooper Laws: New York City was the first to enact the Canine Waste Law in 1978 and, since then, most cities and counties have some form of pick-up-after-your-dog-laws.
• Leash and License: You aren’t allowed to let your dog roam free. Even barking and chasing can be cause for complaint. Most cities and counties require identification on the dog; these ordinances are designed to protect both the dog and the community at large.
• Animal Welfare Act: The closest thing we have to a federal cruelty law in the United States and passed in 1966, it regulates licensing and addresses animal fighting, but does not make it illegal to perform individual acts of cruelty like torturing, beating or neglecting an animal–those types of acts are regulated by the states.

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