September 6, 2016
Currently, 21 states either prohibit municipalities from regulating dogs based on breed or prohibit municipalities from declaring dogs to be dangerous, potentially dangerous, or vicious based on breed. Typically referred to as breed-specific legislation (BSL), these statutes or ordinances regulate certain dogs based on the assumption that some dogs are inherently dangerous based on their perceived breed or breed mix. The problem with this approach is that a dog’s appearance is not an accurate predictor of his or her behavior.
BSL is very costly to for the local authorities to enforce. More importantly, studies in the U.S. and abroad have shown that BSL does not improve public safety. BSL also is costly to owners of dogs of a targeted breed, who are forced to make significant expenditures or, worse, very difficult decisions.
The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) believes that Michigan should join the growing number of states prohibiting BSL by enacting SB 239. SB 239 strikes a balance, ensures fairness, and prohibits legislation that has been shown to be both ineffective and expensive to enforce. Instead, Michigan should enforce existing breed-neutral legislation and enact new breed-neutral legislation as appropriate.
SB 239 would allow local units of government to enact legislation that appropriately places responsibility on dog owners for managing their dogs to prevent problems and harm to others (e.g., licensing requirements, vaccination requirements, leash laws and dangerous dog laws). By requiring that such regulation be breed-neutral, this legislation ensures fairness and does not allow local government to interfere with residents’ ownership interest in specific breeds or types of dogs based solely on prejudice.
MHS will be testifying in support of SB 239 on Wednesday, Sept. 7 in the House Local Government Committee. Particularly if your State Representative sits on the Local Government Committee, please call or write and encourage him or her to vote in support of SB 239!
To find your Representative, please click here.
Information about the House Local Government Committee may be found here.