PA/Centre County Law - American Bull Dog

Asked August 18, 2015, 1:32 AM EDT

Greetings! I am not sure if this is the right forum to present my doggie questions to, but if not, I am hoping someone at this office can point me in the right direction. I am a researcher at Penn State, I work at the University Park campus, and I live in State College within Centre County, in the borough of State College. A few months ago, I adopted a dog. He is an American Bulldog Mix. I adopted him from a local shelter, PAWs. He is the kindest and sweetest soul, is completely obedient to me, and has never attacked or bitten anyone or any animal ever in his 3 years of life. His breed gets a bad rep from some people, but with dedicated owners like me and his previous owner, these types of dogs tend to be some of the most loyal and loving companions a guy could ever wish for. In an attempt to be a responsible owner, I have a few questions regarding my dog and his breed, as they relate to local legislation and law - I am hoping your office can help point me in the right direction: 1) In some localities throughout the nation, "bull" mixes are prohibited. I have been told by friends that there are not any local or state regulations on his specific "American Bull Dog" breed. My question is: If I own an American Bull Dog, are there any types of restrictions on this dog's breed that I should know about (e.g., traveling, temporary boarding) in the following counties: Centre, Huntingdon, Clinton, Clearfield, Union, Snyder, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Dauphin, North Umberland, Lebanon, Schuylkill, Lancaster, Lehigh, Chester, or Berks counties? 2) In Centre County, specifically in the borough of State College, are there are restrictions to where I am allowed to let my dog urinate or defaecate in neighborhoods? My dog is never allowed out the front door without a collar and leash securely fashioned. Specifically, I do not have a yard or fenced in area to allow my dog to roam free, so we take 3-4 long walks per day. I only allow him to to urinate or defaecate on the strips of grass that are between the sidewalk and the street in my borough, I always clean up "dog poop" with a bag after he's finished, and dispose of the waste in the borough trash can provided to my residence. Does the current routine I describe above in question 2 meet PA, as well as Centre County, as well as State College borough, guidelines for walking dogs (i.e., if I continue to only let him urinate and defaecate on the strips of grass between the sidewalk and grass, and always clean up "dog poop," with a bag and dispose in my own property's trash, am I abiding by all laws?)? 3) I officially adopted my dog through Centre County PAWs organization, I have all of his "papers," he has a regular vet (Joan Ritchie, South Atherton St., State College), he always wears an identification tag on his collar with his leash when leaving the house, and he is microchipped. Is there anything else I am obligated by law to do to ensure my lawful ownership over this dog? I know this is a lot, and may take a lot of research, but I cannot explain how grateful I am for the time taken in reading and investigating these questions; or, in pointing me in the right direction to individuals who can officially inform me regarding all of my inquiries. Thank you SO MUCH for your time! Best, - Frank Materia

Centre County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Hello Frank- Congratulations on your new family member. I will address your major questions in this forum, as information on Breed specific legislation may be useful to others, but the more specific questions, I will answer by email.

Breed specific legislation (BSL) is the banning or restriction of ownership of a number of different breeds, including in some cases pit-bulls, "bully-type" breeds, Rottweilers, and others. The legislation may include banning the ownership of the dog, mandatory spaying or neutering, requiring muzzling when walking in public, etc. These are often local or county ordinances, but may fall under the state dog laws, as well.

The good news for you is that state law (507-A of the Dangerous Dog Act) states that "Those provisions of local ordinances relating to dangerous dogs are hereby abrogated. A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specific breed of dog."

So- there should not be restrictions on your dog based on his breed in the state of Pennsylvania. I don't know how the law applies to boarding kennels or other private facilities (groomers, etc.) that you may want to use.

In Pennsylvania, a specific dog license is required for all dogs aged 3 months of age or older. You can obtain an annual license or a lifetime license for your dog at many local pet-related businesses and veterinary offices.

Outside of Pennsylvania, I encourage anyone with a breed that is of a type that is commonly targeted by BSL, to educate themselves about the regulations of their particular municipality and state.

I am impressed with the responsibility you have assumed in taking good care of your pet, and making sure that you are following the regulations.
Best wishes,