Lansing, Michigan May Consider Breed-Specific Ordinance

By Editor
In Breed-Specific Legislation
Feb 27th, 2013
3 Comments
1821 Views

**Please contact Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero here and the City Council here and politely inform them that breed-specific legislation (BSL), in any form, is ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional.**

According to the Lansing City Pulse:

Mayor Virg Bernero says the city needs to address its “vicious dog” problem… And it looks like the City Council agrees.

“We have a serious problem with vicious dogs,” Bernero told the Council at its meeting Monday night. “We have people in this city living in fear.”

He was telling the Council to get moving on drafting a vicious dog ordinance that would likely involve regulations on securing scary hounds on owners’ property. Details of such an ordinance are scarce. It’ll likely be contentious over whether to go “breed specific.”

Bernero said the “vast majority” of instances when the Lansing Police Department has had to shoot dogs involved a pit bull. “I know some people don’t like it when I say the truth about pit bulls. But they seem to be the ones we have the most problems with,” he said.

However, Bernero recognizes that different communities across the country regulate vicious dogs in various ways. “I leave it to the Council the best way to write the ordinance,” he said.

If Lansing has a free-roaming, “vicious” dog problem, why would it pursue a breed-specific ordinance?  All kinds of actual breeds free-roam, so how will BSL help?  And I would submit that Lansing does not have a “vicious” dog problem, and certainly not a “pit bull” problem since there is no breed “pit bull”; it looks like Lansing has a free-roaming dog problem resultant of an entrenched gang problem.  So, with all due respect, the Mayor’s “truth” about “pit bulls” isn’t truth at all.  The truth is, Lansing has a gang problem, and you can’t solve a gang problem by blaming the symptom; you must solve the problem at its source.

Lansing is certainly not the first Michigan city we’ve seen that attempted to address their gang problem via breed-specific legislation.  It’s understood that since Lansing is Michigan’s capital it might want to downplay that gangs, or “neighborhood street crews,” are a problem, but you can’t put a Band-Aid in the form of BSL, on the ever-expanding wound that is gang-related crime.  As ever, the so-called “pit bull” problem in urban areas isn’t a “pit bull” problem at all.  Rather, it’s a symptom of the endemic, urban problem of poverty: Lack of opportunity for jobs (particularly for minorities), i.e. economic decline, which Michigan has in spades.  In fact, Michigan was just named one of the 10 most depressing states because:

“Few states have been as battered by the economic downturn as Michigan. With unemployment as high as 20% in some counties, it’s not surprising that residents might be feeling distressed.”

And that 20% is most likely just people filing for unemployment, which may exclude people who have been unemployed for over a year, making that 20% figure look unrealistically low.

If you’re a kid just out of high school, why should you go to college?  There are no jobs and no way to pay back your student loans.  So, for some faced with the possibility of chronic unemployment, they choose the gang lifestyle instead because it’s more appealing than standing in a line waiting for an unemployment check or lining up for blocks with other applicants all applying for the same few scant jobs.

As many in the dog lobby have advised several cities in Michigan: Take care of your economic problems overarchingly, and, as much as possible, deal with the fallout of economic decline in the meantime.  That can mean enticing more businesses to come to Michigan cities with low tax rates and other incentives, while dealing with the symptoms of urban poverty and blight on the back end. 

If Lansing has a free-roaming dog problem, then perhaps more temporary Animal Control staff are needed, which would be a lot more economically feasible than enforcing BSL, which, according to the Best Friends calculator would run close to $200,000 annually.  The economic downturn, which has hit Michigan hardest, is causing particularly youths and young adults to join gangs (or to use Lansing’s description, “street crews”) which in turn causes them to run drugs, fight dogs, and commit other serious crimes. Take care of these problems by encouraging job growth and after-school programs that keep kids away from gangs and drugs, and you’ll take care of your free-roaming dog problem.  Yes, admittedly, easier said than done, but again, you can’t point a finger at the symptom as if it’s the cause; you must address the problem at its source.

3 Responses to “Lansing, Michigan May Consider Breed-Specific Ordinance”

  1. brandy mcnamara says:

    hello I would like you to know I’m in owner of 2 pitbull terriers they are very loving and caring dogs you cannot punish the breed but punish the deed any dog can be vicious not just pitbulls. in every sense this is a form of racism and discrimination and I am highly against it along with thousands of other people that have these dogs. my 1 pitbull terrier is a therapy dog for my autistic child so for people to put a bad name on these dogs because of certain kinds of people making them aggressive is disgusting. pitbull Terriers are actually very loyal and caring animals all you people are seeing is the aggressive side of the animals and again any animal can be aggressive down to the dogs that you guys use for police training German shepherds, once again we’re back to discrimination and racism of a dog it’s in the same category. my dogs are my family they are my children in a they will stay that way they will never leave my family either I believe that you guys need to do further research instead of picking on these animals in centering it down to pit bulls are bad. once again I am saying you punish the deed not the breed I have head pitbulls my whole life growing up and I am now an adult and have 2 of them and they are the most gracious kindness loving animals. thank you for your time I hope you read this email and do not delete it because it is showing good that pit bulls are not bad animals.

  2. NPBB.com says:

    Well said Brandy. Yes indeed, breed-specific restrictions are a lot like the prejudice of racism, because like racism, BSL unfairly scrutinizes a being based on hysteria and faulty thinking.

    I hope the Lansing Mayor and City Council are listening. And yes, if your son requires his American Pit Bull Terrier therapy dog, which of course he does, then if BSL does pass in Lansing you have an excellent legal case against the city for unfairly scrutinizing your son’s therapy dog which is an ADA violation.

    Best of luck. You all are in our prayers. ;-)

  3. brandy mcnamara says:

    My dogs are family and will not be leaving they are part of my family.

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