Michigan bill would prohibit local bans on specific dog breeds - WNEM TV 5

Michigan bill would prohibit local bans on specific dog breeds

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A Michigan lawmaker is trying to pass a law that would prohibit local bans on specific dog breeds.

Animal advocates are really pushing for this bill.

Local governments would still be allowed to put ordinances in place that put restrictions on dogs in general, or dog owners, but not a specific breed.

Lois Karasek has been rescuing dogs for more than 20 years. She said some dogs, like pit bulls, are judged based on negative stereotypes and calls breed specific legislation discrimination.

"It's an unfair ban based on misinformation and lack of education. It's owners that make dogs mean, it's not the dogs,” Karasek said.

The issue isn't new.

The bill introduced by Senator David Robertson failed to pass the Michigan legislature back in 2015.

Since then, 21 other states have passed laws preventing breed bans.

Terry Hodskins, president of the Michigan Pit Bull Education Project, said she hopes the legislation will be successful this time around, but if it isn't that won't stop her from fighting.

"Safe communities are our priority. Everyone wants to see our communities protected by any dangerous dog. We have a responsibility to keep our community safe, no exceptions. The focus would be on the behavior of the dog and behavior of the owner and SB 741 accomplishes that,” Hodskins said.

Hodskins said there are no local bans in either Berrien or Cass county, but there's also nothing in place from stopping local governments from passing one.

She calls breed discrimination laws ineffective, difficult to enforce, and infringes on people's property rights.

"Instead of punishing certain dogs for being born a certain breed or the way they look, Michigan communities should hold owners accountable and responsible for dogs that are actually dangerous,” Hodskins said.

Karasek said in her experience, breed bans lead to families being torn apart and it needs to end.

"Pit bulls are one of the most loving and loyal family dogs that you can have,” Karasek said.

So far, the bill has passed the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee. It's now headed to the full Senate floor.

The House would also need to pass the bill before it could reach the governor's desk to become law.

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