The Detroit City Council will be holding a public hearing on two proposals meant to address dangerous dog and animal control concerns in the city. The proposals are being brought forward after the tragic death of a child in August 2019 that occurred after her neighbor’s dogs escaped from their yard. The American Kennel Club (AKC) joins the city in mourning the death of this young girl, and agrees that public safety and responsible dog ownership must be top priorities. However, while we support many provisions in the two proposals, there are some portions that will punish responsible dog owners yet do nothing to further protect the community.
AKC encourages Detroit residents to contact the Public Health and Safety Committee and consider attending the public hearing on Monday, February 17, to comment on these proposals. Scroll down for hearing and contact information.
The committee is holding a public hearing on February 17 for two proposals:
1) “Emma’s Clause” – Named after the child that was killed in 2019 attack, this proposal mandates that animal control go to the location and investigate if they receive a verifiable complaint that there are insecure or inadequate enclosures or fencing to contain an animal believed to be dangerous. Animal control would be required to make contact with the owner and during the visit, observe, note, and photograph the enclosure or fencing. If the owner is not available, notice must be left and the owner must respond within 48 hours. Further, if the same animal is determined to be dangerous and is involved in a second attack/injury, the dog may be euthanized.
AKC appreciates that the complaints must be verifiable and that animal control must go out and assess the situation in person.
2) Animal Control Amendments – A second proposal, known as the “Xavier Strickland Ordinance Amendments”, provides extensive amendments to the city’s animal control laws. While much of the proposal seeks to protect animals and public safety, AKC has expressed concern with some provisions that we believe are not in the best interest of dogs, owners, or the city. These concerns include:
- Breeder Permits – The proposed amendments include a breeder permit for anyone who owns an unspayed female dog that produces a litter of puppies. The breeder permit is valid for one year and allows for a maximum of two litters per female. AKC opposes the concept of breeder permits or arbitrary reproduction limits, and does not believe these will accomplish the city’s goals of promoting responsible dog ownership or community safety. Instead, we encourage the city to focus on general animal control laws that hold all dog owners accountable.
- Sterilization, other requirements for potentially dangerous dogs – The proposal defines a potentially dangerous dog as one that, without provocation, chases someone in an aggressive manner and causes injury; approaches someone in a menacing manner as if to attack; or has demonstrated a propensity to attack without provocation or endanger the safety of people or domestic animals. AKC appreciates that the proposal differentiates between potentially dangerous and dangerous dogs, but the requirements for both are the same, including mandatory sterilization, new fencing, signage, and inspections.
Further, owners of dogs declared potentially dangerous may be required to comply with one of several other requirements, including obedience training, liability insurance, or attending an Animal Awareness Program provided by the Animal Care and Control Division or the Michigan Humane Society. This program will include information on local and state laws, care standards, and any other information deemed appropriate.
AKC is recommending that sterilization not be required for potentially dangerous dogs, and that all owners of dogs declared potentially dangerous should be required to complete obedience training to address behavior issues before a situation escalates or a more serious incident occurs. We are also recommending that the designation be removed if the owner takes proper steps and in a set period of time there are no further incidents.
These are just a few of the many provisions of this ordinance, which also include requirements for dogs declared a nuisance, a new definition of “reckless dog owner”, regulations for foster homes, and other regulations. Detroit residents are encouraged to review the proposal to see how it would impact you and your dogs.
What You Can Do:
Attend the February 17 public hearing and comment on the proposals:
Detroit City Council Public Health and Safety Public Hearing
Monday, February 17, 2020
Erma L. Henderson Auditorium
Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, 13th Floor
2 Woodward Avenue
Contact the members of the Public Health and Safety Committee and respectfully comment on the proposal:
Council Member Scott Benson, Chairperson
Council Member Janeé L. Ayers, Vice Chairperson
Council President Brenda Jones
Council Member Roy McCalister
AKC Government Relations continues to closely monitor this proposal. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.