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UPDATE - Statewide BSL introduced in Michigan
Posted on 06/10/2011 in DED News.

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Statewide BSL introduced in Michigan
House Bill 4714 was introduced on June 7 by Representative Bledsoe. This bill contains an all-out ban on ‘pit bulls,’ and if it somehow succeeds, would be the only state-level ban on ‘pit bulls’ in the nation. The bill contains the usual definition of pit bull, including American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mix thereof. Both UKC and AKC standards are referred to for identification of these dogs. In one year from enactment of this bill, no breeding or selling of ‘pit bulls’ would be permitted. In 4 years, all existing ‘pit bulls’ would be required to be sterilized. In 10 years, it would be illegal for anyone to own or possess any ‘pit bulls.’ This heinous bill would be a disaster to APBT owners in the state of Michigan, and to all dogs that could be construed as ‘pit bulls.’ While Chairman of the Regulatory Reform Committee, Representative Hugh Crawford (R-Novi), has stated that the bill will not be heard at this time, UKC will remain vigilant in opposing this bill until it’s truly dead.

Points Against HB 4714:
• Punish the deed, not the breed. Michigan already has a breed neutral dangerous dog law in place. Rather than enact a law that will impact only one type of dog, improved enforcement of existing state and local dangerous dog, leash, and dog at large laws will better serve to protect the public. Owner responsibility is the key, not breed profiling.
• Banning a breed will NOT make the state more safe. According to a study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine, viewed from a purely statistical standpoint, breed restrictions would not significantly decrease any risk of bites to the public, while large numbers of dogs would have to be removed or regulated at great cost to the state and to dog owners.
• Breed bans or restrictions are extremely difficult and costly to enforce. Many breed-specific laws, as in this bill, include mixed breeds and wrongfully use breed standards as a means of identification. There currently exists no legally accepted scientific method to positively identify mixed-breeds. Breed standards were never written as a means to identify breed or breeds for a dog of unknown parentage, but to define the ideal specimen of that breed.
• The bill does not provide due process for owners of mixed bred dogs or unregistered dogs that may be labeled as ‘pit bulls,’ which is unconstitutional. Due process means that some sort of hearing must be provided to owners in order to determine their dogs as ‘pit bulls.’ The cost of training and hiring additional animal control officers and others that would be required to enforce this bill to attempt to identify dogs as ‘pit bulls’ would be astronomical. Furthermore, an appeals court in Miami recently found in a case where a mixed-bred dog was determined to be a ‘pit bull’ through a hearing, that an animal control officer’s determination was not ‘substantial evidence,’ and that he did not qualify as an expert witness despite the fact he claimed he had previously been a ‘pit bull’ breeder.
• Many communities that have enacted breed specific legislation have found it to be unsuccessful and as a result, have since overturned it. The city of Cleveland recently removed ‘pit bull’ language contained in the dangerous dog ordinance in favor of defining a dangerous dog by acts committed and placing the emphasis on owner responsibility. Ohio is the only state that has state-level BSL, and there is currently a bill in the house that would lift the inclusion of ‘pit bulls’ in the definition of vicious dog.
• Breed specific legislation is a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice issued a ruling that the ADA trumps any state or local breed restrictions, and service dogs cannot be restricted. Per the Department of Justice: “State and local government entities have the ability to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal’s actual behavior or history-not fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave.”
• Breeds typically lumped into the generic ‘pit bull’ definition, including American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Terriers, are not inherently dangerous. These breeds have never been bred to be human aggressive, and were once referred to as ‘nanny dogs’ because of their affinity to children. While purebred dogs have certain physical characteristics and instincts attributed to each breed, breed is not a prediction of behavior. Too many other factors play a role in dog behavior, such as care, nutrition, socialization, health, training, and attention given to the dog. Many ‘pit bull’ attacks hyped in the media are often the result of abuse, neglect, or irresponsible owners. In fact, in tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, 86.4% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed, 84.2% for American Staffordshire Terriers, and 89.7% for Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

PLEASE contact Michigan Representatives and urge them not to support this legislation!
A list of Representatives may be found here: http://www.house.mi.gov/replist.asp

Tips on getting involved and contacting lawmakers may be found here: http://www.ukcdogs.com/WebSite.nsf/WebPages/ComWhatCanYouDo