The Michigan House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that would prevent all of the state’s communities from banning specific dog breed through ordinance. It’s an impassioned debate, with concerned residents worried about data that shows pit bulls are responsible for over 80% of dog bite-related deaths. On the other side of the fence are those who believe the issue is complex and that public safety is not addressed by breed-specific bans.
Proponents of Regulations Focus Largely on Pit Bull Dangers
Over 900 cities in the United States regulate pit bull ownership. With over 30 dog bite-related fatalities and hundreds of dog bite injuries each and every year, the public safety concern deserves to be weighed. Out of the 34 dog bite-related deaths in 2015, 28 of them involved pit bulls and 3 of the remaining six involved Rottweilers, another often banned breed. Over 40% of these deaths involved children, and half of the attacks were perpetrated by more than one dog at the same time. The elderly are another population which is highly vulnerable to dog attacks.
More often than not, dogs that attack and kills humans are not the pets of the individuals who are attacked. Slightly less than 2/3 of fatal attacks involve a completely unfamiliar dog or a dog that does not normally live in the household of the attacked individual. Many times, the owners end up facing charges for negligent care of their dog.
Opponents of Breed-Specific Ordinances See Complications
Those who support the bill being considered are opposed to the kinds of breed-specific regulations in place in at least 26 Michigan communities. The first concern is foundational—the pit bull, for example, is not actually a formal breed of dog. Instead, there is a collection of breeds that are often considered to be a pit bull-type dog, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and sometimes the American Bulldog. The fact of the matter is there are nearly 30 breeds of dog that can show some physical characteristics which may get them labeled as a pit bull or pit bull mix.
Experts call this visual identification, especially of mixed breed dogs, dangerous and misleading. They say there is not a breed-specific danger to the public, and that instead, the threat comes from individual dogs and irresponsible dog ownership. For these reasons, it is believed a ban on breed-specific bans could help refocus public safety efforts in the right place when it comes to dog bites.
Horror Stories Abound
Unfortunately, dog attacks leave horrific marks on their victims, even if they survive. Facial reconstruction surgeries can be necessary, as can long-term treatment for emotional pain, suffering, and treatment. It only takes personal knowledge of one case of a serious dog attack before a person becomes extremely leery of dogs who look a certain way. Without a doubt, many of the pit bull types of dogs have been bred over time as fighting dogs. Many people still use them this way today, which contributes to the risk of such dogs attacking and injuring humans.
Whether or not you live in a community with breed-specific regulations or breed-specific bans, you and your loved ones have the right to interact safely in public and private spaces without being attacked by a dog. If someone you know is injured or killed in a dog attack, the dog bite injury attorneys at the Offices of Lee Steinberg can be at your side in a heartbeat. We will ensure you understand your rights and the legal options you have, and we’ll fight to ensure you are properly compensated for the damages caused by another person’s wrongdoing. Call us today for a completely FREE consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE.