Click here to view the full city ordinance pertaining to animals in the city of Des Moines. For other frequently asked animal ordinance questions, click here.
Breed Specific Legislation in Des Moines
The Animal Rescue League of Iowa believes that the best way to enhance public safety is to regulate dogs based on behavior, not appearance and therefore we strongly oppose any form of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) or other regulations against a dog's appearance. Dogs visually identified as "pit bull" are the 5th most popular family dog in Iowa (and in the top 10 in 46 states), so unfortunately many innocent dogs and their owners are unfairly targeted through BSL. The national trend is that each year more and more cities are rejecting or repealing BSL than those who are adding it. As of 2017, 22 states have even gone a step further and made it illegal to have any form of BSL in their state (Arizona, California, Colorado, Conneticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New york, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.)
Unfortunately, Des Moines has not yet made this change. A task force was created to evaluate the ordinance in the fall of 2014 and the ARL had two representatives on that task force. At that time, city officials refused to entertain any conversation with the task force surrounding changing the breed-specific portion of the ordinance.
Understanding the Ordinance
Click here for the city of Des Moines ordinance as it pertains to dogs and particularly "any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier." We realize the ordinance is confusing, so we have created a Cheat Sheet that better explains the requirements.
Our adoption counselors are happy to walk you through the ordinance when you adopt your new dog. If you have questions about the ordinance for your existing dog, contact (515) 284-6905.
There are many local and national resources available if you are interested in learning more about dog ordinances and treating each dog and each owner as an individual.
The following groups have also spoken out against BSL, including: American Kennel Club, National Animal Control Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Bar Association, United States Department of Justice, Centers for Disease Control, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, United Kennel Club, and many more.
"It is virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds." - Centers for Disease Control
"BSL is ineffective and can lead to a false sense of community safety as well as welfare concerns for dogs identified (often incorrectly) as belonging to specific breeds." - American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (2014)
"We don't support breed-specific legislation -- research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources." - The Obama Administration (2013)