Hazel Park wants pit bull owners on short leash
Posted August 20, 2008
HAZEL PARK — City Council last week approved the first version of an ordinance that aims to regulate the ownership of dangerous animals, specifically pit bulls.
The ordinance would require that anyone that owns a Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or American pit bull terrier must register the animal with the city and meet certain criteria to house the animals.
The dogs must be confined to a pen in the owner’s yard and must at all times be on a leash, and must be muzzled if ever taken out of the confinement, which must be locked and at least 6 feet high. The homeowner must also display a “beware of dog” sign on the home and kennel.
Owners must report the death or birth of any pit bulls within the city limits, and the dog owner’s address must be current at all times with city records.
Hazel Park Mayor Jack Lloyd called the introduction of the pit bull ordinance “long overdue.” He said that Hazel Park is following the lead of several other Detroit suburbs and cities throughout the country that are considering similar ordinances.
“It’s been a problem throughout the region,” said City Manager Edward Klobucher, “and it needs to be addressed.”
A similar version of the ordinance was discussed nearly one year earlier, when City Council considered requiring that dog owners should also hold a $1 million insurance policy on pit bulls in case they attack someone.
“A lot of people are intimidated by these dogs,” said City Council member Jan Parisi. “I don’t think people feel comfortable in the neighborhoods. I think that’s a shame. That’s why this is very important.”
The ordinance was proposed because of a large number of attacks by pit bulls that occurred in the city last year. There was no mention by City Council members last week whether that trend has continued.
The permit that city officials are looking to implement will be required within 30 days after the ordinance passes. Owners will also be required to renew the license every year and provide two current photographs of the dog. The permit would cost $50.
“The $50, I think, needs to be there,” said Parisi. “If you’re really going to be a responsible person and you want to be the owner of an animal, then you should come up with $50.”
In the case that the dogs injure or kill a person or another animal, the district court will have the right to order that the dog be killed. The punishment would be made at the owner’s expense and can be extended to animals that could kill or cause severe injury in the future.
Dogs can also be ordered sterilized, and owners could be forced to build an escape-proof enclosure or anything else the court deems necessary to protect the public from a breed of dog that is perceived to be dangerous.
City officials are not stopping their efforts at the local level. Hazel Park City Attorney Arnold Shifman also called on state legislators to follow the city’s lead.
“This should be a state law regulating pit bulls,” said Shifman. “This is a statewide issue.”
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