If you have a “pit bull” style dog, you are probably no stranger to the acronym BSL or Breed Specific Legislation. Although advocates of bully breeds are working hard to reverse legislation banning certain dog breeds around the country and the American Veterinary Medical Association has stated that they do not believe in BSL as a solution, some cities still have them. Campgrounds and RV parks that are private property may also implement bans at their own discretion or even turn individual dogs away.
Here are some tips to help your travel go more smoothly if you travel with a dog who might be subject to BSL:
Avoid Towns and Cities with Breed Specific Legislation
Some states and cities are less accepting of certain breeds than others. You can use the BSL Census map to research areas that you want to avoid. Click on the state to view a list of bans and ordinances, then click on the link to learn more detail about the ban or laws. We suggest researching whether or not the law applies to residents or anyone traveling in the town or city. You can also research what breed inclusive options are nearby in case you are stranded in a town that is not accepting of your dog.
Phone Ahead to Ask About Breed Restrictions
Even if you can find information on a campsite’s website or social media site, always call ahead before you make a reservation online or plan to include a campground or state park on your itinerary. This way you can avoid surprises, especially after a long day of driving or if you are headed to an area where you do not have a lot of other alternatives.
Help Your Dog Earn the Canine Good Citizen Title
The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title is awarded to dogs who pass the Canine Good Citizen test. This test is part of the larger American Kennel Club Family Dog Program. To earn the CGC, dogs and their owners perform a series of ten obedience tests including walking through a crowd, reacting to another dog, and staying on command.
Although there is no guarantee that having the CGC title will help you against a breed-specific ban, it may benefit you if an RV park or campground owner is wary about your particular dog. It is also fun and rewarding for both you and your dog when you earn the CGC and the other certifications under the Family Dog Program. You can even order collars and tags for your dog to proudly display their achievement when you are out on walks.
Even though the American Kennel Club is a registry of purebred dogs, mixed breed dogs are welcome to participate in the Family Dog Program and other obedience competitions. The more obedience awards your dog can accomplish, the better he or she will be as an advocate for breeds on “dangerous dog” lists. You can keep these documents along with the other important information about your dog that you carry with you at all times.
Answer Questions and Be an Advocate for Your Dog’s Breed
Raising friendly, well-socialized dogs has benefits for your dog’s breed by helping the general public see beyond negative news stories and stereotypes. A few years ago, dog lover Monique adopted two American Staffordshire Terriers, Luka, and Kaia. Kaia was a little over a year old and Luka was an eight-week puppy and they have grown to be a bonded pair. She camps and hikes extensively with them and said that she is often asked about them.
Recently they were on a hike and she said, “I pulled off the trail to let two other hikers pass by like I always do. I do this because some people are afraid of dogs in general but mostly, I do this because my dogs think that everyone they see wants hugs and kisses.” She continued, “As the couple passed, they asked if the dogs were friendly and if they could pet them. I agreed with the warning that they may jump and lick. After a few minutes, Kaia did stand up for her hug and the guy was petting her and loving on her. Then he said, ‘You’re ruining all the pit bull stereotypes right now!’
When traveling, Monique said that she does plan ahead and look for Breed Specific Legislation and make sure that anywhere she wants to camp permits her dogs. She added, “So many people ask me what breed they are and I always answer American Staffordshire Terrier. Everyone wants the ‘pit bull’ answer. I explain that it’s one of the breeds lumped into the ‘pit bull’ name.”
Working Toward Ending Breed Specific Legislation
Well, respected groups in the dog care industry are working hard to help educate government officials and the general public about better alternatives to Breed Specific Legislation, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, Victoria Stillwell, and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. You can help by researching their data and understanding the concerns that might be brought up if you are traveling with your “pit bull” style dog in your RV or camper.
Continuing to socialize your own dog and practicing good manners like loose leash walking and the “settle” command will also help reduce any concerns about your specific dog should you encounter prejudice over your dog’s breed or a mix of breeds.