A new wrinkle on the breed bans: Subdivision dog restrictions and what to look for when buying a house

Cody the dangerous puppy

This is a public service announcement and it’s long. The world is losing its mind, kids. Let us discuss breed bans and house-buying, both of which I am qualified to opine on. It is now a thing to write in to the bylaws/master deed of subdivisions restrictions on what kinds of dogs you can own and how many. We can leave for another date the relative wisdom of limiting the numbers you can have or the size you can have, but the breed ban list is out of control.

This puppy (Cody, and sorry – he’s adopted) would be banned in several new subdivisions because he’s been labeled a dangerous breed. Cody is not dangerous to anything other than your shoes, but the developer decided huskies are dangerous and ergo, no huskies. That means if you move into a neighborhood with breed restrictions written into the master deed and/or recorded documents, it can be enforced and they can make you give up your pet. This is the trickle down from the lunacy of breed ban laws passed by many jurisdictions. Here’s the list I have seen of dangerous breeds listed in subdivision regulations:

Saint Bernards
American Bulldogs
Pit Bull Terriers
Great Danes
Doberman Pinschers
All the mastiff breeds
Great Pyrenees
Swiss Mountain Dogs
Bernese Mountain Dogs

And the list goes on. Everyone on the planet has heard the (ludicrous) claim that pit bulls are dangerous, but berners? What this tells me is that someone had a bad experience with a dog and threw it on the list, labeling one dog as representative of all which is how all stupid rules and laws get started. Then they throw statistics at you to support their claim, but statistics are widely misused and manipulated and it pays to think for yourself.

Any dog, especially a large dog, is capable of inflicting damage. Dogs bite for a variety of complex reasons, and breed alone is not one of them. Dangerous dogs do not belong in homes and neighborhoods, but the determination of how a dog gets deemed “dangerous” is unfortunately not always based on reason and logic.

So, kids, step up and say something when breed bans get mentioned. The next breed they come for may well be yours and it won’t be based on science or logic.

And now the free lawyer advice: don’t ever buy a house without 1) finding out if are there any local rules or ordinances prohibiting specific dog breeds or limiting numbers; 2) reading every last page of the master deed (sometimes collectively called codes, covenants and restrictions or CCRs); and 3) reading the bylaws and rules and regulations. It never hurts to get a copy of the subdivision plat and reading it, too. Hire a construction/real estate or land use lawyer to read all of this for you if you can’t figure it out. It may be the best couple of hundred bucks you ever spend when it comes to peace of mind on what you’re buying for your family and four-legged friends (and also tells you a boat load of other things like sinkholes, injection wells (scary), easements and so on). Read before you ink.

Carry on, kids.