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Animal activists rally against breed-specific legislation

Posted at 5:47 PM, Sep 17, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – The issue of discrimination was front and center at the state Capitol, but it had little to do with humans.

A group called Make Michigan Next brought dozens of supporters to call on lawmakers to make changes to a nearly 100-year old dog law.

Among those supporters, were three young women from Melvindale.

rally1“We have four pit bulls and one German shepherd and they are all the sweetest dogs,” said Alysha Dobrick.

Melvindale is among nearly 30 cities in Michigan with a law banning pit bulls. Other communities have declared a specific breed dangerous or mandated sterilization.

“We’ve talked to the mayor… and she said they were working on getting the law changed, but for now they really haven’t done anything about it,” added Dobrick.

The message to lawmakers: punish the deed, not the breed.

“A lot of people that are scared my dog, I’ll let them pet him and see that he’s not mean, at all,” Dobrick explained. “It just changes people’s opinions about him.”

Websites such as DogsBite.org, point to statistics, that while pit bulls account for less than five percent of dogs in the country, that breed, along with Rottweilers, accounted for 74 percent of dog attacks that resulted in deaths.

Terry Hodskins is the founder of Michigan Pit Bull Education Project, a group that’s partnering with Make Michigan Next.

She says when communities discriminate against a certain dog, it breeds fear.rally3

“When you have breed-specific legislation in an area, it is crazy the type of hysteria it actually contributes to the community,” Hodskins said.

Make Michigan Next intends to make this state the 20th to ban breed specific legislation.

“We wanna make this simple,” explained Hodskins. “We want to amend the current 1919 dog law. We want it to read that Michigan prohibits any of their cities or towns from implementing breed-specific legislation and part of that also should read please lift current breed restrictions across the state.”

No formal legislation has been drafted, nor introduced, but the group is getting a lobbyist to help its cause.

FOX 17 spoke briefly with two state lawmakers.

State Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) says he does not support breed-specific legislation.

Sen. Maj. Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) told FOX 17 the issue isn’t currently on his agenda.