California to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico and Pitbulls

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puerto rico pitbullWe’ve heard a lot of this and that about pitbulls and hearsay about Puerto Rican laws regards owning pitbulls, since one of our dogs is sometimes mistaken for a pitbull. So, here are the facts:

In 1998, a bill (HB585) was signed by the Governor of Puerto Rico, which bans introduction, importation, possession, acquisition, breeding, sale, and transfer of Pitbull Terriers or hybrids resulting from a breed of these dogs or with dogs from other races, are all prohibited. The banned race of canine is defined as “a race of bull terriers that include the Stafforshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and combinations of these and other terrier races.”

The bill also states the following:

“Any person, as of the date of enactment of this Act, who owns any of the canines mentioned, shall register said dog or dogs in a registry intended for those purposes, at the Agriculture Department. The registration will take place within the eight (8) months following the approval of this law. After that grace period has expired, the opportunity to register them will cease and the Registry will be closed. The registration application must contain the name, address, and telephone numbers of the owner, the location where the animal will be kept, and all the information needed to identify the dog. Said application must be accompanied by a registration fee of twenty-five (25.00) dollars. Every dog so registered will be assigned a registration number which will be engraved on a small metal plate to be affixed to said dog’s collar. The owner of the dog will receive, in addition to the duly engraved plaque with the registration number, a certificate of registration as evidence of the dog having been duly registered with the Department of Agriculture. In the case of a female, she is to be sterilized, tattooed with an indelible mark indicating this surgical procedure has been performed, and the corroborative document signed by a veterinarian will be required by the department of agriculture prior to her registration. Any dog that fails to carry a plaque indicating its registration number and whose owner fails to produce the registration certificate after the eight (9) month grace period shall be immediately confiscated by the pertinent authorities.”

So this is the just of it: Pitbulls were officially banned from Puerto Rico, when the bill was passed in 1998. There was a 8-month window where they allowed you to register your Pitbull with the Department of Agriculture. You can no longer register a Pitbull or bull terriers and they are illegal to possess if they are not already registered. If you are caught with an unregistered Pitbull or bull terrier, the dog will be confiscated and you will be charged with a misdemeanor.


45 thoughts on “Puerto Rico and Pitbulls

  1. Robert Rexach

    Summer, I know what you’re talking about. Unfortunately, some of the people here aren’t as enlightened as others, and pitbulls were made illegal to combat dogfighting (yet cockfighting remains legal.. wtf?), as well as attacks on people by trained pitbulls. I mean, it’s not like any other dog couldn’t inflict damage. Government here is like government anywhere, reactive.

    Anyway, one of my local relatives has a boxes that gets confused with a Pitbull as well. A quick explanation sorts that out, but it’s unneccesary.

  2. Joan P.

    As former owners of Staffordshire terriers(our last one died about 3 weeks ago, she was 13 years old)we are normally up on the laws concerning these pets and had informed Stefan of the law. The bad thing about this law is that it was passed with little or no notice to the public. When we inquired about this law our Vet told us that it would die down like everything else in Puerto Rico and not to have our pet tattooed as she had been spayed already. We made sure that our pets did not get out of our yard and wreck havoc with the neighbors so that no complaints could be made with the local police dept. I could write a whole bunch more about this but there’s not enough time at the moment. I am working with a gentleman in Ponce to get this Law changed and will give you an update soon….

  3. Vicious Summer

    Joan – I was really sorry to hear about the loss of your dog (Gomez told us). Let us know if there is anything that we can help with in regards to getting this law changed, we’d be happy to pitch in. Every staffy that I have ever met has been such a loving pet and loyal protector. I didn’t realize that dog fighting was popular in PR (I knew that cock fighting was, which isn’t much better, but I have such a soft spot for dogs…). I figured the ban had more to do with keeping stray packs of pitbulls off the island, since there are so many strays in PR, but I guess it only makes sense…

  4. Vicious Summer

    Robert – Cockfighting is still legal in PR?! I had no idea. I thought it was banned (yet still very popular) for sure. Stefan and I have talked about getting a Boxer, so that’s good to know.

  5. Robert Rexach

    Cockfighting is indeed still legal here, and I find that quite disgusting.
    I’d love to pitch in to get that law changed as well, and I’m certain that some of my local relatives would be delighted to assist.


    i have a pit bull terrier i got papers and i have a house in Ponce and i want to bring my pit bull in my property its
    part of my family and i could never leave spike behind. IF there is a way or some kind of a loop hole. PLEASE! HELP! US!

  7. johida claudio

    This law banning pitbulls i think it`s ridiculous.right now i will love to go to P.R. to live again but have my 2 pits..And i just can`t leave them behind.They`re part of my family..My son loves them {he`s only 1 year old}And he`s always playing with them,they`re a lil ruff playing but my baby h does everything a baby ca do to a dog..And my dos are so good with them… If ther`s anything i could do to help reverse ths law i`ll be mor than happy to help…

  8. michael castillo

    I currently reside in westminster colorado due to the riddiculous bans that have taken affect here as well. I’ve have spent thousands on my dogs, and now that the creator of the bloodline has past, that leaves only the best off spring. My dogs are show dogs, breed for the best that you see in a dog show, including temperment!!! I’m a single father with three kids who would also like to move back to puerto rico, due to my family that I have out there. I think this is completely riddiulous considoring that there isn’t even really animal control out there. I came back to colorado from puerto rico 8 years ago. Look at the millions of nasty,disgusting,stray dogs that run the streets. I want my kids to grow up knowing there herritage and where their blood comes from. Please if there is anyway that I can help you out on making pitbulls legal in puerto rico. Please let me know. I promise you I can get at least 1,ooo signatures just to sign for a petition. As I’m extremely linked amongst the pitbull community!!!!

  9. stefaninsanjuan

    HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS LAW? Breed specific laws (BSL) are ridiculous especially in a country/commonwealth that cannot manage its animal population and whose citizens are often brutal to animals (and often the most pet loving people i’ve seen). My pitbull carried from NYC just died. It’s so easy to get another one here but I am now fearful as all it takes is one AH neighbor with a connection to get me a year in jail, a thousand dollar fine and my family dog confiscated. I have that neighbor and while he was unsuccessful in the past…he is determined and might be successful in the future. SO i put $100 down on a black beauty pup and now I find myself not able to take her as I am fearful of this law and Puerto Rico’s selective law enforcement. I don’t want another dog. I can find a more vicious, legal dog but I want my loveable PB. I’m so pissed but I have ideas. Let me know if you think we can do something. – Stef

  10. Keila Martinez

    I am a new pitbull owner i have a 3 month old red nose puppy he is the most loving dog i ever had he let my 2 year old daugther play with him even when he is tired of her lol she pull him by the legs the tail and skin and he will not even do a noise. I have a cocker spaniel before him and she actually bite my girl in the arm and one in the face and people think cockers are wasome dogs with kids not true. pitbulls love children true, obidient pets true killers, vicious false really FALSE lets raise our vioce against BSL or law #158 in puerto rico that is a stupid law that punish even good owners, and dont see the true behind the accidents because why the governor dont ban people for life?? those mothers how kill their children people can think and plan dogs just react to what they have been teach to do. Lets think and then react to the real killers and vicious that are people and not DOGS.

  11. Fred

    Thanks for taking out my comment. Now i know your not being objetive and you do not care about who may get harm if anyone gets attacked. Wonder how much your being paid to be on their side!

  12. Denise

    I love pitbulls and i am so disappointed with the ban. I am a single mom to two kids and i am moving to Puerto Rico so that my kids can be raised where i was raised but i also want them to have something familiar in their lives. My daughter grew up around pitbulls and she loves them. My baby has only been around pitbulls a few times whenever we visit my brother and his pitbulls love him specially his female she adores my son and sleeps by our bedroom door whenever we visit. Im disappointed to know that i cant get a puppy pit to bring with me when i move because of this stupid law. If there is anything i can do to help ban this law please email me [email protected]. I can get a lot of signatures since my brother is very connected among the pitbull owners and breeders in the east coast and some in the west coast.

  13. AmiroC

    Well pits are banned because of the drug dealers and the housing projects to be truthful about it. Pits were used to help keep cops out and do harm to others. Granted there was dog fighting, but I’m sure that’s not the main reason. Even know PR has barrios where cops cant even get into because of fear for their life.

    So what did this ban serve?

    Someone said it, their should be more harsh laws on people not the dogs.

  14. Margarita Barea

    We are broken hearted we have made plans to retire in Puerto Rico, where we have our parents and enjoy a happy retirement with family. Now our dream is broken, we found out that one of our family member for the past 6 years Jatsia a pit bull is not allowed to enter Puerto Rico, we don’t know what to do. But we know that Jatsia is a gentle family dog that we love. We have 5 children, 16 grandchildren 4 great grandchildren and Jatsia has always being a gentle dog with neighbors and family members. Please revise this law or tell us what to do to be able to have Jatsia with us to enjoy retirement. Waiting a reply.

  15. Kayra

    Summer, where did you get this information? My husband Chad and I are looking to move to PR in April of 09 and it would just break our hearts to have to leave our dear Sandy behind. Just checked out your site and love it that you and Stefan have been a recollection of your move to PR. Would love to meet you guys when we go there. We are spending some time in January and Rincon is always a preferred destination. 🙂

  16. mek one

    well the law was lifted because a couple o f pit owners were forced to euthanize their dogs an pay a fine. so they got together and went to court to fight the law. so they lifted the law for like 2 months but the pit owners lost the fight and the law is back in effect, so if they catch u with a pit they’ll give you a 5,000 dollar fine and kill your pit. is sad that people like me cant walk their pits in the street because of fear that it would get taken away and then killed. the way of thinking of the law makers is narrow and wrong, next thing you know they’ll pass a bill saying that everybody that lives in the projects is a delincuent and a criminal and should be ethanized.

  17. W. A. Russell

    I have an English Bull Terrier, does this law refer to them? Why are we continually punishing the breed instead of the owner. English Bull Terriers are one of the friendliest breeds you can ever come across. I am in the military and I got rid of my pit bull before I came to PR. I then invested in the Bull Terrier. Now I am wondering if they are part of the injustice.

  18. stefaninsanjuan

    It is illegal to have a pitbull or related dog as per the language written above. They can take your dog, fine you and imprison you. They probably won’t but they can. the dogs are all over the island. I saw the typical ghetto procession walk the beaches of ocean park and humacao recently…in front of the police. Instead I can get a far more dangerous dog..a mastiff breed…where what I really want is a pitbull. I would get a pit but I have a dirty lawyer living in my building that has tried to get my previous very well trained and loveable dog taken away from me and my kids and would no doubt try again if I brought one home.

  19. Pedro Baerga

    The problem in PR is that people are very trendy and the number of people with aggressive dogs was out of control. Yes there are dogs that aggressive that are not currently banned. The sad thing is that there are some responsible PB owners (all of you on this site)but PBs happen to be commonly used for dog fights and owned by thugs.

    You might not like this but your only option is to get a dog that is not banned instead….


  20. yclaudio

    this law is just plain stupid i have a pit, and pits are like children they behave depending on how u raise them. i think this law should be derrogated. LOS PITBULS SON COMO LOS NI~OS ACTUAN SEGUN LOS CRIAS!! pits shoukdnt be banned, irresponsible owners should be penalized!!

  21. Charlie

    Hi we are been attack my so many people here in Puerto Rico for been owners of Pitbulls. I have to admit that there is a group of inresponsable who dedicated there pits to fhighing. But there is even a bigger group who have been fighting with this law so that the could be legal we are responsable owners. We need all the help we could get from everyone here are the e-mail from the senadors in Puerto Rico who are seen this case. Please send a email with a positive story it could include pictures of your pitbull so that they can see that we are worried about the future of our dogs. [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]
    [email protected]
    Thanks for the help….

  22. stephanie

    the law of the ban of pits really gets me mad because its not the dog to blame its the owners that want and make the dog dangerous!! i absolutely luv pits and i myself own a pitbull/rottweiler mix and i wonder if this law includes my dog even though he is a mix?… please respond would like to know more!!!

    pit luver
    anasco,puerto rico

  23. Cassie

    My experiences with Pitbulls and research into them:

    When I was growing up, we had a pitbull named Beau. We raised him like any other dog- no dog fighting or any awful things like that. He was a great dog, very loyal -especially to me. Then my brother was born when I was about 5 years old. The dog took it as a threat and bit him. He would also scare the mail man and tried to bite him when he’d come deliver the mail to our house. He was loyal and a good watch dog, but dangerous! So,we had to get rid of him.

    Fast forward to today: My parents now have a pitbull because, ironically, someone dropped him off as a puppy on the side of the road and my BROTHER (now grown) brought him home. They have raised him to be gentle and kind and neutered him, but it is bred in them to be ferocious animals and cannot be helped much.

    If he is around other dogs and there is a fight about food for instance, he can snap and turn in an instant.
    He has killed one of my parent’s cats and bit one of the other dogs so hard in the leg after fighting over something that they had to amputate the other dog’s leg!

    Years and years and years of breeding and training them to be stubborn and continue fighting to the death (this is called “gameness” in the breeding world), has made for an animal that in one instant can be the most lovable thing to a monster in the next. I can see why Puerto Rico would not want them breeding with all the strays that are out there (in addition to pits being a “gang” emblem and drug dealer dog of choice due to their loyalty).

    Just like a “Retriever” likes to Retrieve things because it has been bred in them to do so-this is not something the owner necessarily teaches-, a pit bull (and other fighting breeds) were bred to fight –and bite.

    On the other hand, the English bred dogs are a little more predictable and less likely to bite people and animals unless trained to do so- at least according to this article on Wikipedia (unlike the American standard):

    “English fighting dogs that bit the referee were culled. The phrase ‘man eaters die’ was commonly known and reflects how aggression was not tolerated towards any person by any dog.

    As a result, Victorian fighting dogs (Staffordshire Bull Terriers and, though less commonly used as fighters, English Bull Terriers) generally had stable temperaments and were commonly kept in the home by the gambling men who owned them.”

    So breed-specific choices have been made for a long time, and sometimes are necessary…

  24. Summer

    Cassie – I totally agree with you. We have an English staffy who is VERY well trained, but when she’s not happy with something she snaps and has caused a great deal of havok. I also know English staffy’s and pitbulls that have never and would never hurt a fly. So it really depends on the bloodline that you happen to get.

  25. Carlos

    Well, I currently live in Puerto Rico, I have one 11 month old red nose female, one Blue Razor’s edge male, one Blue razor’s edge female. All registered under APBR. To me The pitbull ban in Puerto Rico is just lame. BUT, Pitbull’s are a becoming very popular to own now. Seem’s the more Illegal they are the more demand for them exist. See, a ban on a Pitbull is like a ban on Mariguana OR Crack.. They may catch a few dealer’s but, there will alway’s be other’s to replace them. For each Pitbull put to sleep someone will mate their dog and add more to the cause. By year 2010 I will have added atleast 10-15 new companion’s in people’s home’s.

  26. Ziggy

    Cassie any dog can react the same way. It really all depends on how they were raised (if they were socialized,trained, etc). On the other hand it is known that APBTs carry in their genes a trait that can appear anytime. That’s why you never leave your APBTs with other dogs unsupervised. Also that’s why inexperienced dog owners shouldn’t get this kind of breed unless they’re willing to spend the extra time and care. I’ve never had any bad experiences, fights or close encounters with my APBTs. In fact the only problem I’ve had is from ignorant people who think my dog could snap one day and attack everyone and everything (reminds you of someone?). My female pit definitely likes to be Alpha dog and will bully any dog who tries to oppose her, but she would never hurt a human and she has never attacked any other dog. Of course she hates cats (A cat attacked her when she was 2 months old and wouldn’t stop for anything) and will prey on chickens, or rabbits, etc. But so will cats, and birds, and lizards, and many other animals that people raise as pets. I’m sorry that you are reluctant to understand that the dog is not the monster it’s the people that turn them that way, and the people are the ones who should be responsible. The current ban in Puerto Rico penalizes (for the most part) responsible owners of APBTs. It’s been reported unofficially that more than 3000 pits have been euthanized in less than a year. Some of them with temperament certificates, some of them puppies, most of them weren’t fighting dogs or killers. If you agree that human aggressiveness wasn’t tolerated in english fighting dogs, what makes you think that it was with the pit bulls? People need to get their facts straights, not just repeat what others have written in their websites. This law is unconstitutional and a crime to the citizens and residents of Puerto Rico. BSLs are not the solution they only add up to the problem. The media can misinform the people so I suggest everyone to stop taking the information you find on the tv and the internet as the absolute truth. Research and you’ll find out that your experience with the breed might be just 1 in a million.

  27. Lilliam

    We had an American staffy for 14 years. Napoleon did not know he was a dog, he thought he was the younger of the family members. He loved to take car rides, watch t.v. and just be with us in the living room. When we lived in an apartment in The Bronx, everybody was scared of him when “his” three brothers took him out for his daily walks. But he melted at the sight of a basketball and often took the baskeball away from the boys in the ‘hood. When we moved to the Poconos, he loved running after deers and rabbits. Once, my husband was working in the backyard and he didn’t hear nor see the huge black bear behind him; but Napoleon did and he flew down the terrace stairs and chased him away. Another time, don’t ask me explain how because I don’t know, he saved us from a fire. It was winter and we were all sleeping. He opened the door and started to bark by our master bedroom window. I woke up and woke my husband up angry because he had let Napoleon outside in the cold. Then we realized what was happening. Our family would not be here if not for Napoleon. We had to put him at rest when he could not walk or eat anymore. We still cry over him as a family member.

  28. Lilliam

    By the way, we are retired now and live in P.R. Have heard of the ban, but my neighbor across the street in the metropolitan area have a beautiful brindle puppy. In the area of our country house, there’s a young man who has an adult male.

  29. Erik

    I love APBT since I was small and have had them for a VERY long time, But sadly a few months ago my male apbt died of parvo, Im looking to get a new one, I too live in puerto rico but can NOT understand how or even why they banned these beautiful and wonderful dogs, I think and always will think that APBT are the BEST breed out there EVER!! But the one person that said they are trying to get a law passed to unban them please get ahold of me, I would love to help you out in any way with that, Me and my wife are HUGE APBT lovers, Thanks and take care everyone


    People think about it cockfighting have been a tradition of PR forever only because a few animal activist freaks want to ban cockfighting in PR. i will believe these activist freaks eats chicken and meat at home what a bunch of hipocrites.Regarding pitbull who cares about piptbulls if you want a cute dog get a pomerarian, poodleor cocker spaniel. by the way i used to be an owner of 3 pomerarians


    Blacks in USA agree with me the punishment of Michael Vick for dogfighting was too hard.Michael Vick should be given community service instead.Look at redneck hunters shooting and killing deers, nobody said anything including PETA.Look at bullfighting in Mexico and Spain same thing nobody said anything.The other day i was debating this topic with a old lady regarding him comming back in NFL.She had a problem with him comming back in NFL but she doesnt have a problem with Martha Stewart convicted for fraud on FEDERAL LAW,comming back on TV gimme a break

  32. Kio Val

    I totaly agree whith you guys but i think if PitBulls are illigle i think cockfighting should be illegle and why should PitBulls be illegle all dogs can couse harm im gonna send a note to the ledislature to band thate dumb law of PitBulls.

  33. huracanveloz

    Kio Val cockfighting is a puertorrican tradition but why dont ban deer hunting in USA I DONT SEE ANY ACTIVIST DOING ANYTHING REGARDING DEER HUNTIN

  34. Fran and Steve

    huracanveloz and “REINALDO”: Deer is hunted for meat (not to say trophies aren’t kept, but that’s another story). Deer are not tortured to death for sick people to get their jollies. See the difference? And yes, there are plenty of activists against hunting deer for any reason.
    Cockfighting, bull fights, and dog fights are all in the same category: Torture of animals for the pleasure and greed of humans. Claiming “cultural” or traditional reasons to tolerate these practices shows the sad perception you have of your culture (be it Puerto Rican, African American, Spanish, or Mexican), believing that such culture has not progressed beyond the 19th century, when that is not true. It is always surprising to me that some individuals continue to glorify such inhumane acts despite public awareness. What is it that you don’t get??? There are actually studies showing a correlation between individuals who have intentionally tortured defenseless animals and their carrying out acts of violence, including homicide, against human beings. If you like to gamble, there’s nothing to stop you from buying lottery tickets or going to a casino. Fran


    Fran i agree with you that animal cruelty is wrong but there is difference between lovely pets and wild animals.We love in the western world love our dogs but check it out in some villages in Africa the have lunch with the dog as a meal.If you look at Bizzare Foods on tv you found in Far EAST people eat bugs but we dont do that in the western hemisphere . I have seen a lot of AnimalCruelty in ANIMAL PLANET CHANNEL but in the cases that you show me bullfightinf and cocfighting none of them are lovely pets by the way last but not least pitbull i dont consider that dog a pet. That is the closest animal almost similar like a wolf .If looking cute pet get a pomerarian, poodle or if you liked get a cat

  36. David

    Quick question to anyone living full time on the island. I am originally from Puerto Rico. Lived the last 23 years in Calif. Semi retired and moving soon to PR. Have 2 American Pitbull Terriers that are sweet as they can be, but rather intimidating looking. Great to keep trouble away from home. Is the breed banned from entering or pocess in PR as they were before Fortuno was suppose to sign 158?. Have had to modify my retirement location twice this far due to that fact. Any help will be appreciated.

  37. Frances Velez

    I have pretty much the same situation, but I’m a medical student living in San Antonio, Texas with my 2 year old pitbull. I’ll be moving to PR to start my internship year there for a year and I can’t leave my dog behind. What can I do?

  38. Reinaldo

    Philadelphia Eagle Michael Vick remember me Baltimore Oriole shorestop and puertorrican native Roberto Alomar.He was suspended for 10 or 15 games because he spits an caucasian umpire. While Alomar did wrong the punishment base from newspaper in Puerto Rico was little extreme.Whatever happends if his name wereCarl Ripken or Mark Scmith we dont know Look at the facts Vick was convicted for dogfighting but you look at Pittsburg Steeller quaterback Ben Rothenburg.That fool was acussed and convicted for rape in Atlanta early in the season .He settle out of court later and the NFL the only punishment he had was a suspention for 5 games.In my opinion he shouldnt play lasrt season at all. I guess sometimeskin color play on verdic result look at these cases OJ Simpson and look at John E Dupont case. By the way im not stirrin the pot im writing same stuff Sport illustrated said of Alomar in 1996 and same stuff onVick vs Rothenburg and Oj Simpson vs John E Dupont

  39. Reinaldo

    Kio Val before you complain about cockfighting and pitbulls why dont you complain about the killing about the coqui in Hawaii. We and Gringos love our coqui and the sound of it during the night

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  41. Brittany

    As of June 2012, the ban on pitbulls has been lifted. The only “restrictions” are that you have to take them out in public on a leash and with a muzzle, but you’re not going to be charged with anything or given any fines for owning a pitbull now.

    As for whoever mentioned deer hunting, it’s only during certain times of year, and most people who kill deer eat the meat. You don’t eat the roosters that are killed from cock-fighting, I’m pretty sure.

    • Travis

      I can’t find any information on this anywhere…. there is no proof, where did you get the information?

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