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Michigan Senate Bill May Prevent Dog Breed Discrimination

Michigan Senate Bill 239 would prevent dog breed discrimination by prohibiting local communities from banning or regulating specific dog breeds.

Currently under Michigan state law, local communities are permitted to enact their own ordinances to regulate dog breeds. If this bill were to pass, local ordinances would no longer have that control.

The legislation however would still allow for breed-neutral regulations. Breed-neutral regulations focus on problematic pet owners and individual dog behavior rather than a dog’s breed.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc) who stated in an interview with M-Live that “If a dog is vicious, it is because of the irresponsibility of the owner and not because of the breed.”

The bill is now headed to the House for a vote and is being referred to the House Committee on Local Government.

Dog breeds are characterized by certain physical and behavioral traits. In Michigan, several cities currently have some type of dog breed-specific regulation. Warren, Highland Park, Waterford, and Centerline are just a few of the many local communities in our Metro-Detroit area that have passed breed regulations.

The ordinances vary but the majority regulate specific dogs that present a tendency to be more aggressive than others, or “dangerous dogs.” Pit bulls and Rottweiler’s are often labeled as dangerous and are banned by many local communities. Below is a list of some of the communities that have specifically banned or put restrictions on pit bulls:

  • Alma – Bans pit bulls
  • Dearborn Heights – Restricts pit bulls
  • Ecorse – Bans pit bulls
  • Grosse Pointe Park – Bans pit bulls
  • Grosse Pointe Woods – Bans pit bulls
  • Hartford – Bans pit bulls
  • Highland Park – Bans pit bulls
  • Lapeer – Restricts pit bulls
  • Muskegon Heights – Bans pit bulls
  • Southgate –Restricts pit bulls
  • Waterford Township – Bans pit bulls
  • Ypsilanti Township – Restricts pit bulls

There has been quite a bit of conflicting views on this topic. Many individuals believe the state should not be allowed to override what locally elected leaders think is best for the community, while others believe banning specific dog breeds, such as pit bulls, is discrimination.

In the United States, 19 states have provisions like Senate Bill 239, and instead of banning specific dog breeds, they hold pet owners responsible. Effective laws address the behavior of dog owners and the resulting behavior of their individual dogs – similar to the idea of breed-neutral regulations.