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The American Pitbull Terrier has such a bad rap in the media.
The breed is known for attacking people, kids, and other pets.
To be frank, the rumors are myths for the most part. Sure, the Pitbull can be quite vicious but not all of them are.
Well, to protect its citizens from fatal attacks, authorities in many states have created legislation against owning one.
Each state has its own set of rules. There are those that ban it completely, those that prohibit buying new dogs, and those with stringent conditions for having one.
So, what states ban Pit Bulls?
Before we list them, it is important to understand that states that ban Pit bulls have an infamous legislation called Breed-specific legislation in place.
Enacted at the municipal or county level, Breed-specific legislations (BSL) are laws or ordinances that regulate or ban certain dog breeds in a bid to lower dog bites on humans as well as other dogs and animals.
But these regulations are controversial to say the least, and are often fueled by inaccurate beliefs about public safety as well as biased media coverage.
In most states, the regulated breeds are Pit Bulls, which include American Pit Bull Terriers, English Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. (See the video below to learn more ‘Pit bull’ class of dogs).
Other states’ regulated breed list may also include a variety of other dog breeds, including American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Doberman Pinschers, Cane Corso, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Dalmatians, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Danes, Dogo Argentinos, German Shepherds, or mixes of these breeds—and sometimes even dogs that resemble these breeds.
While many states favor laws that track and regulate dangerous or vicious dogs individually—regardless of the breed—and don’t have BSL, there are still quite a number that has some form of BSL.
Granted, no state in US outlaws Pit Bulls entirely.
So, the states that we have included in the list below don’t have total statewide bans on the breed per se but have a significant number of cities that still enforce bans and restrictions on Pit Bulls.
Let’s dive right in…
States with Pit Bull Bans
With 91 cities with pit bull bans or legislation, Iowa is the worst state to pick if you own a pittie.
72 of the cities forbid the breed completely. Others only have a problem if you own more than one dog of the breed.
It’s not only Pit bulls that don’t have a home in Iowa. Other breeds such as German shepherds and Rottweilers don’t, too.
As a matter of fact, if you own a dog weighing over 100 pounds, you will certainly run into problems with Iowa authorities.
Ohio is also not pit-bull friendly at all.
Over 80 municipalities have bans and restrictions against the breed terming it ‘vicious.’
You’d be lucky to find a municipality that totally embraces the breed and treats it like any other.
Most of them just view pitties like any other dangerous animals such as a poisonous snake or a crocodile.
Pitbull lovers in Missouri have very limited city options to choose from as more than 86 municipalities have bans and regulations against the breed.
The city of Florissant is the worst of them all, thanks to a complete ban on owning, keeping, transporting, or selling Pit bulls.
Whether you live in Aurora or Denver, you are less likely to live in peace with your Pitbull.
According to the state’s law, you should not own, keep, possess, harbor, exercise control over, sell, or transport a Pitbull or any other restricted breed such as Canary Dog, American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Presa Mallorquin, TosaInu, Cane Corso.
Ideally, any dog with the physical traits and behavior of a Pitbull is not welcome in Colorado.
Kansas has breed bans and legislation in 90 of its cities with most of them being full bans (77 in number).
You are not allowed to keep, own, or harbor any dog from this breed.
Other ‘dangerous’ breeds here include the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and any other canine with the characteristics and appearance of the three terrier dogs above.
The law was put in effect in 1987 and even after the amendment in 2007, not much changed.
Many Wisconsin cities have also taken action to avoid dog attacks from aggressive breeds such as the Pitbull.
In total, 60 cities have either banned owning pitties or have created legislation around it.
Luckily, there are a handful of states that only have some rules regarding owning a pit bull but have no bans per se.
If you hope to move to this state, do your research on the right city to settle in.
The number of Wisconsin municipalities that have bans and regulations against Pit bulls is 46.
This means it is not the best state to relocate to if you own a pit bull.
Other breeds viewed as the ‘object of scorn’ include Shar-pei and Rottweiler.
While not all cities in Michigan ban Pitbulls, a majority of them do.
These can either be bans or restrictions but they are all targeted towards pitties.
Alma, Carson City, and Buena Vista Charter Township, for instance, refer to Pit bulls as ‘vicious’ and have rules for owning them.
Bessemer Township, Ecorse, Dearborn Heights, and Grosse Pointe Woods have totally banned the breed.
Other vicious breeds, according to the state’s authorities, include the American Staffordshire, Akita, boxer, Dalmatian, Chow chow, bullmastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Alaskan malamute, Rottweiler, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Great Dane, German Shepherd, Presa Canario, Siberian Husky, and more. The list is pretty long.
If you are planning to relocate to Arkansas and own a Pitbull, start looking for a new home for your Fido.
30 cities in the state don’t allow the breed at all.
The law clearly states that no Pitbull should be owned or kept within the city’s borders.
Apart from the Pitbull, the state also bans the Staffordshire bull terrier, American Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Mastiff.
Kentucky is yet another state that is notorious for banning Pit bulls among other breeds.
Initially, the ban only targeted pitties but as of 2018, the list of dangerous dogs was expanded to include German Shepherds, Mastiffs, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Chow chows, Great Danes, Huskies, Akitas, St. Bernards, and Alaskan Malamutes.
States that Allow Pit Bulls
Essentially, these are states that prohibits or don’t have BSL. In other words, they prohibit local authorities from enforcing BSL.
Instead, they favor laws that track and regulate dangerous or vicious dogs individually—regardless of the breed.
So, if you are looking for municipalities that are friendly to Pit Bulls, these are the cities to consider:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
Why Are Pit Bulls Banned In Some Municipalities?
The main reason why some states or cities in the US have enforced BSL against Pit Bulls is the perception that they are aggressive and dangerous.
Unfortunately, people raised these dogs as fighting dogs in the past. This made them to be aggressive towards other dogs and even humans. People still believe that they are aggressive and dangerous.
Latest bite statistics also ranks Pit Bulls as the most aggressive dogs in the world. In other words, the breed has recorded more attacks on people and animals than any other breed over the years.
But the bans are sometimes due to misjudgment of the breed, especially due to their looks and previous stereotypes.
For instance, Pit Bulls tend to have large heads and intimidating appearances. So, many biting incidences can be easily blamed on them when the culprit dogs are not identified well.
These dogs are also believed to have the ability to ‘lock jaws, which simply means that their jaws can latch on an object or enemy and stay in position, increasing the chances of them causing significant damage or even killing the enemy.
But the ‘‘jaw locking mechanism” is a mere myth as science is yet to prove its existence. Learn more here: What Dogs Have Lock Jaw?
Fortunately, Pit Bulls have performed exceptionally in past temperament tests carried by American Temperament Tests Society.
This shows that while some reasons for banning the breed in some cities are based on statistics, others are pure stereotypes.
What Should You Do If You Own A Pit Bull In A State Where They Are Banned?
Some local authorities will slap you with a lot of fines for the duration that you keep your Pittie.
Depending on the local laws, consequences may be direr than just paying the fines.
To be safe, consider doing the following:
I. Look for Possible Exemptions
Some jurisdictions have certain exemptions to the BSL.
For instance, some cities may accept Pit Bulls if it is registered by relevant authorities, a DNA test is done to confirm the dog’s temperament, and if the owner aggress to muzzle the dog at all times, especially in public places.
Double check if your state has any exemption you can take advantage of.
II. Consider rehoming the dog
In case your city doesn’t have any favorable exemption, consider rehoming your dog to a friend or organization in a city that prohibits BSL.
It is understandable that rehoming may not be an ideal option because of the strong bond that you already have with your dog but it is very reasonable if you consider that keeping a banned dog subjects you to a lot of local authorities’ punishments.
If you decide to give your Pittie to a friend, you may need to know a few facts as far as taking your dog back is concerned. The following posts may help:
If you can’t find favorable exemptions and rehoming isn’t good for you, then you can consider relocating to a city that prohibits BSL.
Relocating to such municipality will give you peace of mind and the freedom to enjoy the ownership of these powerful and loyal dogs.
Pit Bull Bans: Closing Thoughts
There it is – states that ban pit bulls.
If you are a pittie owner, consider living in any other state that is not on this list.
If you must live in any of them, look for a city that is pit bull-friendly for the sake of your peace and that of your canine friend.
If anything, Pit bull bans or BSLs are just quick-fixes that local authorities resort to attempt to deal with aggressive dog issues in their jurisdictions instead of taking informed steps to address the root cause of the issue.
Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.