Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is exactly what it sounds like: laws designed to target individual breeds of dogs by limiting their legal ownership, restricting their adoptability, and making it overall more expensive to make them part of your family. These restrictions, found at both the local and state level, are often based on misinformation, prejudice, and old-fashioned thinking that don’t reflect the facts or the advancements made in animal welfare over the past decades. We know that you can’t judge a dog’s behavior by their breed appearance, but BSL laws do exactly that.
But the impact of BSL doesn’t end in the government – these practices are also being adopted by home insurance companies, including in New Jersey. Just because you own and love a large dog, or dog who looks like one of the breeds an insurance company has “flagged”, insurers can lawfully increase your home or renter’s insurance premium, cancel your policy, or deny you insurance coverage all together. This can sometimes mean you’re denied housing because of your dog. Worse yet, these practices frequently disproportionally impact tenants and families with lower-incomes, who often have fewer housing options.
LHS directly feels the impact of these unfair practices. Many of the dogs that come into LHS could be labeled as a “risk” by insurance and management companies simply because they look a certain way. This labeling and these restrictions can make it more challenging to find forever homes for these dogs-- and for those who do adopt to keep them if their housing circumstances change – perpetuating the cycle of large dogs in shelters with nowhere to go.
Compassionate pet owners know that all animals are deserving of love and respect – regardless of their breed. Science shows conclusively that dog behavior is rooted in obedience training, socialization, and supervision – you can’t judge a dog’s behavior by what they “look like”. Liberty Humane Society joins with Best Friends and countless other animal welfare organizations across the country by calling on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners [NAIC] to stop discriminatory insurance practices and keep families together.
Together, with your voice, we can make a strong statement in support of dogs and their loving homes. Add your support to Best Friends’ open letter to Marlene Caride, Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, calling for an end to this discriminatory practice by insurance companies in New Jersey.
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