State Senate bill aims to outlaw local dog breed bans

Posted at 4:11 PM, Oct 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-09 16:11:32-04

MICHIGAN -- According to the Humane Society of West Michigan, 20 states have made it illegal for cities and towns to ban certain breeds of dogs. A handful of West Michigan cities have ordinances that prohibit its residents from housing certain breeds.

Thursday, legislation passed in the state Senate that works to outlaw any such ban. People would be allowed to own any type of dog they want.

"We really believe that dogs should be treated as individuals. It's just a bad idea to take one dog and say 'because of this, all these dogs are going to do that,'" Jennifer Self-Aulgur, the society's director of education and community programs said.

Self-Aulgur believes banning specific breeds is outright discrimination and that it's one that leads to fewer dogs finding loving homes in certain cities and towns.

She explained, "We take in pit bulls from other counties where there is breed bans because those dogs would be put to death."

"Every animal that we get in is evaluated for health and behavior. So we wouldn't release any animal that's not safe out into the community," Self-Aulgur added.

She's in favor of legislation that's moving through the state Capitol that would stop cities and towns from banning any breed of dog. Muskegon Heights and Newaygo have a ban ordinance in place and only on pitt bulls.

*In Hastings and Roosevelt Park, pitt bulls have been declared 'dangerous'.

Newaygo City Manager Jon Schnieder said if the state passes a law that supersedes the local ban, then Newaygo will have to comply. Their "vicious dog" ban has been in place since 2008. Schnieder said in his opinion, a repeal "could possibly make things less safe for citizens."

Self-Aulgur said, "A lot of it relies on the owner and not the dog itself."

The Grand Rapids Kennel Club agrees with the legislation and said it would force towns and cities to enforce existing ordinances like 'leash laws' and giving citations to owners if their dog gets loose. The bill is now headed to the House Committee on Local Government.