Russia’s First Animal Cruelty Law Includes Breed-Specific Legislation

Russia has just passed its first law addressing animal abuse, and it’s pretty impressive. The law, titled “On Responsible Treatment of Animals,” was first introduced to the Russian parliament in 2010 and finally enacted in late December 2018 by Vladimir Putin. It prohibits all forms of animal cruelty and specifies rules for pet ownership.

Among other things, the new law outlaws petting zoos, makes animal fighting operations illegal, prohibits the private ownership of exotic pets, bans animals in restaurants and bars, sets rules for establishing and operating animal shelters and requires people walking their dogs to pick up their pet’s poop or pay a fine.

It also bans killing stray dogs and cats and requires their capture to be recorded on cameras and information about the animals to be made public. In 2014, Russia drew international outrage for using pest control companies to poison thousands of stray dogs prior to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

There was a similar culling last year, before the World Cup in June. Stray dogs were shot with poisoned darts or fed poisoned food, causing them to suffer painful deaths. More than 345,000 people signed a Care2 petition urging the Russian Sports Minister to spend the culling budget on spaying and neutering dogs instead.

Perhaps those hundreds of thousands of signatures had an impact. Under the new law, instead of being poisoned or otherwise killed, stray animals must be captured, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped—and then released.

Unfortunately, the New Law also Includes Breed-Specific Legislation

Although the new animal cruelty law may seem comprehensive, it is missing one critical component: a ban against breed-specific legislation (BSL). Instead, the new law stipulates that dogs of breeds considered to be “potentially dangerous” must wear a muzzle when they’re outside, unless the dog is on the owner’s property and there’s a warning sign.

Russia isn’t the only country to enforce BSL, laws that apply to certain breeds only because of how they happen to look and not how they behave.

Here in the United States, for example, Denver has banned pit bulls and dogs that look like pit bulls for 30 years. Because these laws are so unfair, most major animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA and RSPCA, strongly oppose them. And since BSL has proven to be ineffective in increasing public safety, the trend worldwide has been to repeal these laws, not enact them.

Another problem with BSL is that the people who enforce it usually know little about dog behavior. In Russia, the government will compile a list of dangerous dog breeds, according to TASS, a Russian news agency. It’s very unlikely that the makers of this list are dog experts.

Russia’s new animal cruelty law is a very important first step, but as Irina Novozhilova, president of the Russian animal rights group Vita, said, it “covers only one percent of what we’d like to see.”

Take Action

The new Russian animal cruelty law should ban breed-specific legislation rather than enact it. Please sign and share this petition urging members of the Federal Assembly of Russia to remove the stipulations regarding “dangerous” dogs from the new law and to ban BSL.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youll find Care2s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo credit: kishjar?/Flickr


Shae L
Shae L23 days ago

Thank you for sharing

Knud Thirup
Knud Thirup24 days ago

Thank you

oliver mally
oliver mally24 days ago

A promising start! signed!

Chad Anderson
Chad A25 days ago

Thank you.

Jessica C
Jessica C25 days ago

Signed. Glad they have some protection in place, but ban the breed specific stuff- that's just lame!

tammy C
tammy C25 days ago

Great start but rethink the BSL its wrong.

kathy bonard
kathy bonard26 days ago

Good on Russia for getting up to date,BUT they need common sense on the breed specific legalisation law.Not fair to leave out certain breeds,all should be included.Animals are like humans ,some good and some bad.

Emma L
Emma L26 days ago


Angela K
Angela K26 days ago

Petition already signed & shared

Glennis W
Glennis W26 days ago

Sickening Thank you for caring and sharing