Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 2, 2013

Another View: Breed bans just don't work

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Communities should avoid breed-specific dog bans

Communities wishing to clamp down on vicious dogs by banning specific breeds are probably barking up the wrong tree.

Animal rights groups argue if a community wants to consider such regulations, the proposals should be generalized, such as a dangerous animal or a generic dangerous dog ordinance. We agree.

Kevin Hatman, a spokesman for the Michigan Humane Society, says his group opposes bans on specific breeds, such as pit bulls.

“They usually just punish responsible pet owners,” Hatman says.

Waterford Township, which has adamantly defended its breed-specific ordinance since 1990, is reconsidering its tough stance.

Supervisor Gary Wall says township officials need time to study the issue.

He says the ordinance, which specifically bans pit bulls, has come under fire recently at township board meetings.

Wall says he’s getting daily emails and phone calls. There are some who support the ordinance but he admits most want it changed....

Generic dangerous animal bans are working in other communities in lieu of dangerous dog ordinances.

Chief Dan Jensen, director of public safety/chief of police in Grosse Pointe Farms, says dangerous dogs are covered under the city’s animal control ordinance, which does not name specific breeds.

He says the current regulations give the prosecutor flexibility in dealing with dog-related problems.

The most common problems are when a dog bites a family member or neighbor. If it’s a repeat problem, the owner could end up in court and be ticketed and the dog ordered to be put down.

Or the owner could be punished with a warning.

In some rare instances, the prosecutor has ordered extreme measures, such as keeping the animal confined to an enclosed area when outside....

Lt. Luke Riley of the Sterling Heights Police Department says the city has a dangerous animal ordinance but it is not breed specific.

It considers most dog bites as a misdemeanor with fines ranging from $250 to $500.

“It all comes down to the owner and how the dogs are trained,” Riley says. “Dogs may bark loudly when a visitor comes to their home but they are not dangerous, you want good watch dogs to do that.”

While details of the ordinances may vary, having such non-specific breed regulations is the best way to go for communities....

— The Detroit News