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New Bill Prevents Michigan Communities from Banning Particular Dog Breeds

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Bill Says Michigan Communities Can’t Ban Certain Dog Breeds To Protect Against Attacks

A new bill has been passed in Michigan targeting dog breed legislation. Senate Bill 741 is trying to prevent the banning of pit bulls and other breeds some communities have deemed dangerous. Animal groups across the country have spoken out in favor of legislation of this type. Among others, the Grand Rapids Pitbull Alliance avows that they are 100% behind the bill.

Senate Bill 741 states local governments “shall not enact or enforce an ordinance, policy, resolution, or rule that regulates a dog based upon breed or perceived breed.” This bill was recently approved by Michigan’s Senate Judiciary committee and really means that local ordinances can’t be created to pick and choose the types of dog breeds allowed in individual communities. Although, issues around breed bans have cropped up around the state in recent years this bill wouldn’t impact local jurisdictions right to put ordinances or rules in place that put restrictions or requirements on dogs generally or dog owners.

Chairman Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge said SB 742 addresses that “we shouldn’t be prejudiced against any one breed, we should object to bad owners.” He said in his experience in police work, bad treatment from owners was what conditioned dogs to act out, not any specific breed. Arguments are well alive on both sides of this issue and it is probably a good thing that SB 741 is part of a larger package that was also approved by the committee.

  • SB 708 and 709 change court procedures around vicious and dangerous dogs.
  • SB 710 clarifies what happens with dogs used for dog-fighting.

The Senate and House would need to pass the four bills, and then they would need to be signed by the Governor to become law. As dog bite and attack legal experts, the Lee Steinberg Law Firm will update the movement of these bills for our blog readers in a future post.

Dog Owners Could Be Liable for Bites and Attacks

The principal defendant in ‘most’ dog bite and dog attack cases is the dog owner. In Michigan, there are three theories of liability for dog bites and attacks.

  1. A person can bring a lawsuit under the Michigan dog bite statute, MCL 287.351.
  2. A person can file a lawsuit under Michigan common law strict liability.
  3. Third, a person can file a lawsuit asserting basic negligence principles against the dog owner.

However, if a person is not bit by a dog, then the Michigan dog bite victim cannot make a claim for money damages using the Michigan dog bite statute. Instead, the victim must use one of the other two theories of liability. Typically, a Michigan dog attack lawyer will assert a negligence claim against the dog owner for not restraining his animal or otherwise acting responsibility in handling his dog.

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 that is highly vulnerable to dog attacks.

More often than not, dogs that attack and kill 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.

Call a Michigan Dog Attack Lawyer

Our Michigan dog attack attorneys have been representing individuals attacked by dogs for over 40 years making the Lee Steinberg Law Firm and 1-800-LEE-FREE experts in Michigan dog bite and dog attack cases. Our experienced team of Michigan dog bite lawyers is dedicated to fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.

Need a case evaluation? Please call our Michigan dog bite lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about Michigan dog bite and Michigan dog attack law. You pay nothing until we settle your dog bite case. Let us help you today.