Camping with restricted dog breeds could end up costing you a chance at getting a campsite at any given campground and even certain municipalities. While some dog owners think this is a discriminatory practice of disallowing known aggressive breeds of dogs, it really is an issue that campgrounds have no control over.
Why Restricted Dog Breeds are Banned in Campgrounds
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A campground’s #1 reason for existence is to create a safe and hospitable environment for others to enjoy outdoor recreation. Their most important mission of hospitality is to ensure the safety and well-being of their campers and their pets.
However, when guests bring in restricted dog breeds, it opens up a huge liability. And this is why campgrounds are clamping down on banning known canine aggressors. It’s not because they are being discriminatory towards ‘your dog’ or your ‘type’ of dog. Campground owners are only acting on what is being dictated to them by their insurance carrier and local and/or state legislations.
According to Michigan State University’s Animal and Historical Center author Linda S. Weiss in her Breed-Specific Legislation in the United States reports:
“Over the years, newspapers and broadcasts across the United States have reported on injuries inflicted by dogs on humans or other animals. The attacks have occurred in a variety of situations: organized dog fighting, responses of dogs to mistreatment, dogs acting as attack or guard animals, or the unexpected, random neighborhood altercation. In an attempt to curtail these types of attacks, government officials have adopted a number of measures, including licensing laws, statutes that outlaw organized dogfights, and leash laws.”
What is Breed Specific Legislation
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), “Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals.”
Why do insurance companies care?
While the Forbes article, Dog Breeds Banned By Home Insurance Companies, is concentrated on homeowners insurance companies, it does go into depth of why these actions are put into place. Plus, it provides a comprehensive list of restricted dog breeds and % of banned lists with breed.
Actually business’ like campgrounds and RV parks have a much stricter liability policy ruling concerning dogs and dog breeds because their service industry is centered around hospitality. So, it makes sense why campgrounds are bound by these rulings.
In other words, it’s not really the campground owners that being are anti-dog or discriminatory towards your dog’s breed intentionally. It’s actually due to Breed Specific Legislation that forces strict liability insurance to dictate what dog breeds are covered (or not covered) under their policy.
In layman’s terms, should a guest’s dog of a particular banned dog breed bite, injure or kill a person or other’s pet, the insurance will not cover the claim. Thus, a campground may lose their business all together due to litigation and compensation to the victim.
What are Restricted Dog Breeds?
Today, the controversial restricted dog breed list is growing by the day. While I can’t list every restricted dog, these are the most common rejected dog breeds from campgrounds, but not limited to:
- American Staffordshire Bull Terriers (“Pit Bulls”)
- Chow Chows
- German Shepherd Dogs
- Doberman Pinschers
Don’t really know what breed your dog is? A Dog DNA test will help answer that question.
What if I fib about the breed of my dog?
I’ve read several dog owners admit they fib about their dog’s breed on camping social media groups. Not only is it unethical, but in some states and municipalities, it’s illegal to pass off your dog as a breed he is not; even as a mixed breed.
By knowingly saying your dog is a breed other than their true bloodline, you could face stiff penalties set by the campground. At the least, the campground will kick you and your dog(s) out for not abiding by the restricted dog breeds policy.
Again, understand that it’s not the campground dictating the ruling. It all comes down from legislation and their insurance company.
But my dog is sweet!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘my dog is friendly. He won’t bite” from dog owners allowing their dogs free rein of their 15′ retractable leash.
I’m going to stop right there and politely tell them “I was unprovokedly BIT by a so-called friendly dog. So please understand and respect my boundary of not allowing your dog out on a 20′ leash to meet me”.
Of course, I get that misunderstanding sneer as they rein their pooch in.
Likewise, campground owners are also apprehensive about allowing some breeds. However it’s not fair to campers, like myself, who have zero trust in dogs we don’t know. Especially if they’re banned dogs that are known aggressors or breeds in question.
I’ll just avoid that campground that bans my dog
It’s not as simple as avoiding one or two campgrounds because they ban dogs. It’s a sure thing if one particular campground has a banned breed list, most, if not all campgrounds and RV parks have certain dog restrictions too. Unfortunately, it’s hard to outrun these rulings and legalities.
How can I alleviate the dog breed restrictions at campgrounds
If you already have a dog that’s on the banned breed list, there’s not much you can do but to avoid campgrounds all together. I know that isn’t the answer certain dog owners are looking for, but frankly it’s the truth. You’ve already chosen that dog that you love but you need to understand that insurance companies have experienced a high rate of claims that align with restricted dog breeds. By having a dog on the banned dog breed list, you may have to go boondocking in your RV or use dispersed camping where your dog is welcome.
Advice for Camping with Dogs
- Research the campground’s website. First, before making any RV park or campground reservation, read their website in entirety; especially their pet policies. If you have questions regarding their list of banned breeds, phone them for more details and information.
- Do not lie about your dog’s breed. That’s not fair to the dog, the campground and their guests. You’re only implicating yourself by telling them on the phone you have a mixed breed and checking in with your dog that’s obviously not a mixed breed.
- Never assume. Even if you are honest in reporting that the dog is an actual mixed breed that you won’t be denied a reservation. If part of your dog’s mix includes one or more of those listed on their banned list, you very well may be told no.
- Service Dog exemptions. If your dog is a service dog but still one of the banned dog breeds, let the campground know when making a reservation or before arriving. Never try to fake your restricted breed dog as being a service dog just to gain access to the campground or RV park. Not only is that a disservice to those who actually need specialty-trained service dogs but according to Cesar’s Way, it’s also illegal in California and 18 other states have laws concern service animal fraud (2021).
Where are Dog Friendly Campgrounds?
It’s a given that most campgrounds do allow dogs. However, it’s important to read the fine print on which breeds aren’t welcome. Also, some RV resorts, RV parks and campgrounds may limit how many dogs (pets) and size and/or weight of your dog. Some campgrounds and RV parks even have pet-only sections.
Our friends at GoPetFriendly.com provide great resources and pet friendly guides that include dog breed restrictions and rules. Also, check out their The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip: A Guide to the #1 Pet Friendly Attraction in 48 States & Washington DC.
Is dog ownership in your future?
Lastly, most people aren’t even minutely aware that their dog breed choice will place limitations on them from perception to legalities.
If you are thinking about adopting or purchasing a dog from even a reputable dog breeder to go camping with you, you’ll want to think long and hard about which breed you wish to add to your family. Campgrounds aren’t the only business or establishments that disallow certain dogs So, become informed about banned breeds before acquiring a dog.
That even extends to your own renters’ or homeowners insurance policy. General policies typically will only cover up to a certain dollar amount, if any, should your dog bite or attack someone. Most liability insurance companies require you to have specialized dog breed coverage (which is pricy!). However, not all insurance companies offer that dog bite liability protection. So, buyer beware on both counts; selecting a dog and selecting an insurance company.
Final thoughts or why campgrounds have restricted dog breeds
As a dog owner, we hope this information will be taken seriously. There are several reasons why campgrounds and locations have restricted dog breeds. If your dog is on the list of banned breeds and bites or attacks a person or pet, you will face serious repercussions that could land you to lose your dog, a steep fine, imprisonment or both. Why would you want to chance any of that?
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