Michigan lawmakers propose bills to prohibit cities, counties from enacting dog breed bans

A new package of bills would prohibit Michigan municipalities from enacting ordinances that ban dog breeds.

The bipartisan bills, introduced just days after the Grosse Pointe Shores City Council voted to ban pit bulls, would prevent cities, counties, and townships from implementing such bans. 

"As a board member of the Humane Society of Macomb, I’ve seen firsthand the love that can come from any breed of dog," said Rep.  Joe Aragona (R-Macomb County), a sponsor of the bills. "Government shouldn’t discriminate against a dog because of fear of their appearance. If you treat a dog right, you have a friend for the rest of its life."

Grosse Pointe Shores brought forth the ban because a small dog needed its leg amputated after being attacked by a pit bull over the summer. 

"The science is very clear," said Rep. Veronica Paiz (D-Harper Woods), one of the bill sponsors. "We know that breed alone doesn’t account for behavioral differences between dogs, yet this misperception continues. Responsible dog owners shouldn’t have to experience the hardships of the misunderstandings of our canine family members."

After Grosse Pointe Shores banned the breed, Michigan Humane President and CEO Pepper said the organization will be moving its annual Mutt March out of the city. It has been held at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores since 1989.


Michigan Humane reacts to Grosse Pointe Shores pit bull ban, says it will move annual event from city

Michigan Humane President and CEO Matt Pepper reacted to the decision to ban pit bulls in Grosse Pointe Shores, saying the decision "is the wrong message and the wrong issue." The organization said it will now be forced to move its annual Mutt March from the city.

"They are attempting to address a hypothetical future incident as opposed to anything that has actually happened," Pepper wrote in a statement immediately after the ban was approved last month. "There is the issue of what defines a pit bull and identifying them – 'pit bull' is a term for a collective of breeds pulled together in a catch-all name. Breed-specific bans do not address the right issues."

According to data from Michigan Humane, more than 30 local governments in the state have passed "breed-specific legislation" that regulates dogs based on breed or perceived breed. 

"Municipalities in the past have contemplated bans on specific breeds of dogs based on common, false associations between breeds and personality types, forcing tough choices on families," said Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing), another bill sponsor. "No one should have to choose between the community they call home and a furry family member."

The bills have been referred to the Committee on Agriculture. 

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