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Senate Bill 741 supports safe and humane communities in Michigan.

The Problem: Under current state law, any city, township or county can pass a local ordinance arbitrarily banning responsible citizens from owning any breed or mix-breed pet dog. This governmental overreach not only infringes on our fundamental property rights, many of these ordinances also violate our constitutional right to due process. A person walking their pet dog and inadvertently crossing one city boundary and entering another could unknowingly be charged with a crime, fined and have their property – their pet – seized or worse. Consistency is needed for pet owners to be able to move from one community to another.

The Trend: at least 20 states have passed a law similar to Senate Bill 741 to protect a person’s property rights by prohibiting breed-discriminatory or breed-specific ordinances. Since 2013, Utah, South Dakota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut have enacted similar measures to protect their citizens from local government overreach. These states have all recognized that the best way to promote public safety is to focus on the real problem: the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the owner.

The Goal: Senate Bill 741 will encourage cities to enact laws that focus on behavior while protecting an individual American’s property rights. Everyone benefits from a safe society – both people and pets. 

Instead of punishing citizens and their innocent dogs for resembling a certain breed, governments should hold owners accountable and responsible for dogs that are actually dangerous. Our state’s communities should enact comprehensive dog laws that demand responsible dog ownership and hold reckless owners accountable when their poor decisions wind up getting other dogs or people hurt. Reckless owners should be punished – no exceptions, no excuses. 

Breed-discriminatory laws are also a waste of our tax dollars. According to economist John Dunham and Associates, if Michigan were to enact a statewide breed discriminatory provision targeting pit bull terriers it would cost the state more than $15 million each year to enforce. Similarly, the Platte Institute for Economic Research, a conservative think-tank, has determined that pit bull bans are a waste of tax dollars. Breed-specific ordinances divert valuable resources away from regulating animals that are or represent a true propensity to be a public threat.

Studies corroborate the economists’ findings as breed-discriminatory laws fail to enhance public safety.  Studies done in countries with breed-discriminatory laws, such as Spain and the United Kingdom, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined 20 years of dog bite data and found it virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds. The CDC further noted that individuals who look to exploit dogs are not deterred by breed regulations.

Based on these studies, the National Animal Control Association, the American Bar Association, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association do not support breed discrimination. They support laws that go after the real problem – the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the owner.

Every American who follows the rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose. It’s that simple. State representatives need to act to protect Michigan citizens from local government overreach.

Speak for the voiceless and contact your legislator today! Vote YES on SB 741!