More than 27 towns in Michigan have breed bans in place to prevent people from owning proposed “dangerous” dog breeds, but that might be about to change. The state is on track to stamp out ineffective breed-specific legislation (BSL) permanently, and the bill is now on its way to the House.
The current bill as passed by the state Senate maintains that it intends to “prohibit a local unit of government from enacting an ordinance or rule that regulates a dog based solely on breed, perceived breed, or type….”
The National Canine Research Council describes characteristics of ineffective laws quite well: they are costly, difficult to enforce, are both over and under-inclusive, and discourage responsible ownership practices.
There are over 2.5 million dogs in Michigan alone, with roughly 185,000 “Pit Bull Terrier-types.” In a single year, the cost of enforcing BSL might rise to an astronomical $15 million. And for all that money, enforcement practices are incredibly impractical.
Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and other “bully” breeds are often targeted by BSL, and many are quick to point out its discriminatory nature and tendency to overlook responsible pet parents.
Jennifer Self-Aulgur of the Humane Society of West Michigan says, “We really believe that dogs should be treated as individuals. It’s just a bad idea to take one dog and say ‘because of this, all these dogs are going to do that.'”
With any luck, Michigan will soon be a BSL-free state, and hundreds of targeted dogs will have opportunities to find loving, responsible homes. If more regions begin to follow in their footsteps, we may be one step closer to changing negative perceptions of some of our most beloved breeds.