Lansing Developing Vicious Dog Ordinance

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Sometimes man's best friend can be dangerous.

Sheryl Steiner witnessed her neighbor's pit bull break through a fence and kill her family's cat in their own front yard.

"I screamed, just screamed at the top of my lungs to get the dog to drop the cat," Steiner said. "At that point, I'm pretty sure it was too late. It's like he had bit the cat in half."

The same thing happened to her neighbor on W. Berry Street, and Steiner's own dog was injured in another incident. Now concrete blocks line their fence, and she doesn't go outside without a shovel.

"We live in fear now," Steiner said. "We have good fences to protect ourselves, yet we have shovels around the yard to protect ourselves when we come out, because we don't know."

Part of the answer might be Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's proposed vicious dog ordinance. It's in its preliminary stages, but so far, a survey of Lansing residents has come back positive.

"We've had plenty of injuries, we've had plenty of attacks. I don't want to wait until there's a death," Mayor Bernero said. "People shouldn't have to live that way."

Lansing Police said they're on board. Officers had to shoot and kill a dog in July after it charged them.

"The officer had to make a decision, a split second decision and terminated the dog, and actually the dog wasn't terminated," Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said. "It got back up, and went after another officer."

The ordinance could address fencing and insurance requirements, as well as a dog's history or propensity for viciousness. It hasn't been decided whether it will be breed specific.

"It's not the animal's fault, it's the way it was trained," Mayor Bernero said.

So, the ordinance is for owners to own up.

"All dogs, I believe, can be vicious, and it's up to the dog owner to be responsible and not allow that situation," Steiner said.

Bernero hopes city council and the city attorney can move quickly to have an ordinance in place by next summer. There will be public hearings, and the mayor wants to consult with veterinarians, Ingham County Animal Control, and other communities that already have ordinances in place.

Jackson passed a dangerous dog ordinance a little more than year ago. Jackson County Animal Control said they've seen a slight decrease in attacks, but they still happen from time to time.


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  • by artistsh Location: Location on Mar 1, 2013 at 07:59 PM
    Wow. So much of what is said against pit bulls is clearly sound bites from hysterical media reports. Pit bull isn't a breed, it's a term used to describe a number of breeds (pit-bull type dogs). The reality is most people can't even correctly identify a "pit bull" and there have been family pet labradors shot by police who thought a barking dog was an attacking pit bull. The reality is that ANY dog has the potential to bite, ANY large dog has the capacity to inflict real damage, and ANY dog not raised properly can be a danger to people. So much of what is posted here is factually completely inaccurate - too much to even debate. Do some REAL research (not dogbite.org which is supported by lawyers who can make money from anyone bitten by a dog). Read research from CDC, Humane Society, Temperament Testing Association, etc. instead of inflammatory media headlines.
  • by dava Location: Texas on Nov 25, 2012 at 06:50 AM
    The mayor is incorrect about how pitbulls are raised determines their potential for attack, it is their genetics. They were bred as fighting dogs who are relentless and oblivious to any attempt to stop the attack once it starts. I am part of a growing number of victims of pitbull attack who are fed up with the lame excuses for their attacks by people who have no care for the victims or their family members who witness these gruesome, bloody, devastating maulings. By all means, regulate pitbulls so only the owners are subjected to their attack if the drive kicks in. In addition, the owners should be punished following an attack as if they personally attacked the victim with a meat cleaver because that is what the victims look like after a pitbull mauls them. Give this man all the support you can because he is trying to prevent the public from being not only affected by pitbull attack but also from the fear of just walking on the sidewalk without hypervigilance or having a loaded gun at the ready at all times. This is an unexcusable way for people to live because of a dog. Bravo Mayor Bernero!
  • by Jaloney Caldwell Location: G.R. on Nov 24, 2012 at 11:18 PM
    I have been looking for a progressive community to move to as my own is a pithole. I have noticed that areas with pitbull bans have fared much better during the housing crisis and maintained or increased their property values. Many people are seeking communitys to buy homes in areas where pitbulls are regulated. People should note this as well as the fact that gang related violence has been found to go down when regulations on pitbulls are implemented. The Mayor and city council needs to know that he will be buried in calls, letters,threats, visits (from fake residents)and even t.v. celebs. This all happened recently in Miami Dade when a few weak kneed politicans thought they would gain political favor by siding with pitbull advocates. Then the quietLOCAL voters who don't show up at meetings or particpate in email campaigns exersized their voices and stomped the pitbull advocates by an over 2 to 1 margin to keep a ban on the breed that has kept the residents safe and completely maul free for 23 years! So Lansing officials remember to ignore all the noise and listen to the voices of reason. Human safety must come first. This means a ban on the breed. If the breed is not banned there needs to be a ban on breeding, mircochipping, and neutering of all pitbulls as well as insurance requirements that are high enough to acknowledge the fact that pitbulls cause the highest hospital charges, as well as the most disfigurement, loss of limbs, and deaths.
  • by Bob Location: Holt on Nov 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM
    After seeing all of these comments I'm wondering who the smarter creature is Human or Dawg..... Hmmm must be the Dawgs cuz they aren't smart enough to express hatred to others. I suppose if this was a race issue you would talk the same...well Dawgs are in the same situation...Racist people wanting a certain race of pet to go to the back of the bus or in this case get out of town. What kind of neighborhood do you live in....figures
  • by Anonymous on Nov 9, 2012 at 04:53 PM
    A study found that 94% of attacks on children by pit bulls were unprovoked, compared to 43% for other breeds... One 15-year review of dog attack fatalities investigated by the Kentucky Medical Examiner determined that pit bulls were implicated in 45.4% of fatal attacks… Another 15-year review of patients admitted to a Level I Trauma Center with dog bites determined that pit bulls were involved in most of these attacks… The authors states: “Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites”…. One 5-year review of dog attack victims admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia determined that pit bull terriers were implicated in more than half of bites… The authors write: “the overwhelming number of bites involving pit bull terriers in this study and others certainly has some degree of validity when it comes to identifying bite-prone breeds. Pit bull terriers, German shepherds, and Rottweilers were the offending breeds implicated in our study and have accounted for the majority of dog bites according to other investigators”.
  • by NemoDeNull Location: Michigan on Nov 7, 2012 at 06:50 AM
    A vicious-dog ordinance is OK with me MEANING, if a dog attacks a person unprovoked or if it breaks down a barrier to go after another animal or a human, then it gets one chance to be 'good.' (Unless, obviously it attacked a human w/o provocation). BUT please don't make a breed-specific ban. I always fear that folks who dislike/fear certain breeds lump all of that breed as being of the same mentality. Not true. My pet would be illegal in some areas; he has already saved me from serious harm once, when just a 5-month old pup by being smart, observant, and obedient. But I have already seen one person 'freak' upon spotting him looking at that person...yeah, he's half pit bull terrier.
  • by Danielle on Nov 6, 2012 at 08:17 PM
    @Jack Let me start by saying you need more education. I have owned Pit Bulls for over 20 years, and they have been raised with children and cats in the house, this doesn't make me "a certain group of people" I am highly educated and carry a great job and I don't fight my dogs or teach them any different then any other breed of dog I have ever had. Saying what you said is like me saying any one who thinks like you do should be locked up. All dogs could be a problem, it IS the owners responsibility to take care of, train and keep track of their animal(s). I would not say to anyone that their animal should be taken and done away with ALL animals with the correct care can be wonderful. DO NOT BAN PITS ~ "They are part of my family"
  • by vicki levy Location: jackson on Nov 3, 2012 at 04:43 AM
    i agree that its not the dogs fault alot of times but neither is the victim.something needs to be done.even jail time for dog owners who repeatedly let there dogs run wild.
  • by Jack Location: Lansing on Nov 1, 2012 at 03:43 AM
    I say outlaw Pit Bulls in the City of Lansing. Find them, round them up and get rid of them. I use to support the local animal shelter on Grand River but I found out they adopt out Pit Bulls instead of putting them down. I feel the State of Michigan should ban Pit Bulls. The owners need to get rid of the Pit Bull, put them down or move. I want to feel safe walking with my kids on a public sidewalk. And YES it is a certain group of people who have these dawgs and perhaps the cops should shoot the owner as well as the dawg. You here me Dawg!
  • by Dan Location: DeWitt on Oct 31, 2012 at 06:28 PM
    @ Jerry: Not a lot of recent news about German Shepherds ripping babies apart. At least not that I have seen. It's true not every pit bull is going to kill its owner or their kids. However, a large percentage of people that own pit bulls are scum bags who seek to own these dogs as some tough guy status symbol. They then teach these dogs to fight and/or abuse and neglect them. These people are not going to suddenly become reformed upstanding members and start taking care of their animals, so something needs to be put in place to protect the innocent from these attacks. You can own your pit bull and think it's the greatest most lovable dog on earth, but there are many out there that train these things to kill and then allow them to roam the streets freely. You can argue that point if you want to, but try living two blocks away from a set of housing projects for a few years, and see if your view changes after having random pit bulls chase you and attack your dog on multiple occasions.
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