Vicious Dog Ordinance Ahead for Lansing

Chris DeRose of Lansing has owned pit bulls for the last 15 years. His family's newest addition is 'Baby'.

"They're unbelievable. I've raised my kids around them and we've never had an issue," he said.

That's why he was surprised to read about several pit bull attacks in the city over the last year.

"I'm an avid runner," said DeRose. "Never had any of my dogs bit, I've never been bit, so I just don't see the issue."

City Councilwoman Jody Washington says there is an issue and it involves more than just pit bulls.

"When I was campaigning, I was charged by a pit bull and a German shepherd, so it isn't the breed, it's the owner," said Washington, who is the Chair of the Public Safety Committee. "Owners are training their dogs to be more vicious than before."

Recent attacks on utility workers have forced the Public Safety Committee to put a 'vicious dog ordinance' on the top of their priority list for 2013.

"We're trying to figure it all out right now as 'what do we already have?', 'what do we have that's enforceable?', and 'where can we go from here?'," said Washington.

It's still in the beginning stages, but Mayor Bernero says the ordinance should hold owners of specific breeds, including pit bulls, more accountable. That includes building higher and stronger fences and having certain types of pet insurance.

Jackson County passed a similar ordinance in 2011. Both Sheriff Steve Rand and county administrators say the numbers are down since.

"I think the ordinance helped because it gave some latitude to Animal Control officers and sheriff's deputies to solve things," said Adam Brown, Jackson County's Deputy Administrator.

Washington hopes to see similar results.

"I have no intention of putting this on the back-burner, nor does anybody on the committee," she said.

Washington also says the ordinance won't focus on specific breeds.
The Public Safety Committee will continue its discussion at their upcoming meeting on March 5th.


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