LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Michigan Senate voted today to stop local governments from discriminating against certain dog breeds, with a vote of 22 to 13.
This vote will specifically help dogs that are viewed as more aggressive, like pit bulls.
There are mixed reactions from this legislation. Critics of this bill say pit bulls are behind most dog bites that lead to death, but supporters say that dogs should be judged individually and not by breed as a whole.
John Dinon of Ingham County Animal Control is happy with this bill. He says dogs that are viewed as more aggressive, including pit bills, should be treated the same as any other breed.
“The most effective way to keep people safe from dangerous dogs is to asses individual dogs and I think this bill leads to more individual assessment,” said Dinon.
Dinon says judging a book by its cover won’t necessarily give the right perception.
“Breed labeling doesn’t necessarily really give you an idea if a dog is dangerous or not,” said Dinon.
But in 2017, according to dogsbite.org, pit bulls led fatal dog attacks at 74 percent, followed by German shepherds at 10 percent.
Dinon says he understands why some people may be a little cautious about this bill.
“I certainly know that some people are nervous about particular breeds of dogs and I get it,” said Dinon. “Some dogs are bigger and stronger and when they do bite they inflict more damage.”
Dinon says pit bulls weren’t the first breed to get this backlash.
“If you think back far enough, the breed that everyone was afraid of was German shepherds,” said Dinon. “Now I think most people consider German shepherds to be nice, friendly, family dogs.”
Dinon says pit bulls deserve the same acceptance and this bill is taking a step in the right direction.
“Here at Ingham County Animal Control, we do not judge animals based on breed or appearance, we judge them as individuals based on their behavior,” said Dinon.
At least 20 states already have a law like this in effect, to prohibit breed specific policies. Michigan’s bill will now head to the House for the next vote.