Michigan Humane Society

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A Statement Against Breed Specific Legislation

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This photo of Diggy with his new adopter started controversy about whether or not Diggy is a “pit bull.” Pit bulls are banned in Waterford Township, the city he now lives in.

Recently, the story of Diggy, an adopted dog, has been in the news due to questions about his breed and the city in which his owner resides, Waterford Township, having restrictions on specific breeds of dogs in their community. The Michigan Humane Society strongly opposes Waterford Township’s stance in supporting breed bans and asks that Diggy be able to remain with his new, adoptive family.

Michigan defines, under MCLA 287.321, a “Dangerous animal” as “a dog or other animal that bites or attacks a person, or a dog that bites or attacks and causes serious injury or death to another dog while the other dog is on the property or under the control of its owner.” Diggy has not engaged in any of these behaviors. He has done nothing but become part of a family.

The public argument now is whether Diggy is an American Bulldog or a pit bull/pit bull mix. That in and of itself is controversial, as a pit bull is not a widely recognized individual breed, and it would depend on where you based the definition. However, the larger issue is this: it shouldn’t matter.

The spirit behind Waterford Township’s pit bull ban is noble: create a safer environment. It is, however, a misguided effort. Breed bans have proven to be, at minimum, ineffective and more appropriately, a misallocation of public resources and trust.

Our position on breed specific legislation is not unique. The ASPCA, The HSUS and the American Veterinary Medical Association all hold similar positions.

Having an officer with the Waterford Township Police allocate time, in response to a situation where a family pet was being nothing more than a family pet is irresponsible and a reaction to misguided perceptions about animal behavior and temperament.

Painting a breed with a broad brush may seem like a viable solution, but it does not address the core issue. While genetics certainly plays a significant role in any dog’s personality, who that dog becomes is influenced primarily by their owner and their environment.

If Waterford Township wanted to truly impact public safety, they would discard the notion of a breed specific ban and focus on real issues involving companion animals and public safety. Officers should be looking at cases of cruelty and neglect (regardless of the breed). Not only is animal cruelty strongly correlated to acts of violence directed at people, but the animals subjected to long-term abuse or neglect often are not appropriately socialized and may develop behavioral characteristics that make them potentially dangerous. In addition, officers must aggressively enforce existing laws, such as those concerning dogs running at large, for example. The fact that a dog is a pit bull is not a problem; however, a pit bull running loose in the streets is a problem, just as it would be a problem if the dog were a Labrador or a golden retriever. It is the actions of the owner that should be held accountable.

The Michigan Humane Society strongly opposes Waterford Township’s breed specific ordinance. It is ineffective, misguided and serves no true purpose other than to perpetuate myths.

The Michigan Humane Society stands firmly behind Dan Tillery and Diggy and would condemn any action to remove him from his loving home absent any violations of existing State law governing dangerous animals.

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7 thoughts on “A Statement Against Breed Specific Legislation

  1. Thank you….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All the statmets above are correct, I have Been fostering pupies and dogs for over 10 years. In that time I have had many different breads from chihuahuas to pitbulls. I have found many of the Pitts that come into my home are nothing but loving, and for the most part well behaved. Yes, some times it takes time to reintroduce them to a loving home where they are safe and will be cared for; many times, these dogs have been abandoned living on the street or have been neglected and abused. No City/Township should punish a dog for a human’s treatment of the animal that can result in some negative behavioral traits. We all need to stand up together and start looking at the humans that are abusing and neglecting animals and prosecute them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said!

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  4. National Animal Control Association (NACA)
    “Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.Any animal may exhibit aggressive behavior regard-less of breed.Accurately identifying a specific animal’s lineage for prosecution purposes may be extremely difficult.Additionally, breed specific legislation may create an undue burden to owners who otherwise have demonstrated proper pet management and responsibility.Agencies should encourage enactment and stringent enforcement of dangerous/vicious dog laws. When applicable, agencies should not hesitate to prosecute owners for murder, manslaughter, or similar violations resulting from their animal’s actions, and their owner lack of responsibility. Laws should clearly define “dangerous” or “vicious”, and provide for established penalties. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, and/or the relinquishing of total privileges to pet ownership. If a dangerous/vicious animal is allowed to be kept, laws should specify methods of secure confinement and control. A dangerous/vicious animal when kept outside should be confined in an escape-proof enclosure which is locked and secured on all six sides. Signs should be posted at property entrances and be visible from the nearest sidewalk or street.The licensing record could include a notation which will immediately identify an animal which has been deemed dangerous or vicious.”

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  5. Many dog attacks are written up as pit bull attacks, even in cases where the police report never specified a breed! Why? Scarier headlines. Even the most famous of all fatal dog maulings, where a San Francisco woman was torn apart by a 150 lb Presa Canario named Bane in the hallway of her upscale apartment building, is often misattributed to “pit bulls” in articles recollecting the event today. Apparently switching the blame to pit bulls was worth losing what made this particular mauling the grim media sensation it was in the late 90s, namely the bizarre circumstances of Banes breeding, a sordid collaboration between a white supremacist prison gang and a couple of rich bestiality freak lawyers for whom the Presa Canario was the ultimate “power canine”….Oh well, I guess not enough of our readers know what a “Presa Canario” is so let’s just say pit bull.

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  6. Pingback: MHS Loves Pit Bulls – Michigan Humane Society

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