Detroit City Council discusses dangerous dogs in city

City Council to amend current city ordinance

DETROIT – The Detroit City Council is working to tackle the problem of dangerous animals in the city by making amendments to a current ordinance.

On Monday morning, changes to Chapter 6 of the 1984 Detroit City Code, Animal Control, Regulation and Care were introduced into committee. The memorandum was submitted by Council President Brenda Jones.

An official from the City Council said the changes are mostly about generating money for the city to be able to properly police animals throughout the city. Under the proposed changes, if someone violates the ordinance, they would be fined.

One of the amendments is changing the name of the entity from Animal Control Division to Animal Care and Control Division.

Click here to view the full Detroit dangerous dog ordinance.

The changes would also make sure whenever a dog, cat, ferret or other animal is delivered, left with or impounded by Animal Control, a record would be kept that includes the description of the animal, along with the circumstances and date it was acquired. The statistics would then be submitted annually to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and to the City Council so residents could stay informed.

Another amendment addresses how animal control officers obtain animals. It would ensure officers do not go inside a home to get an animal without the owner's consent, a warrant or a guarantee that the animal is in imminent danger. Mark Toaz, with the city's law department, cited Fourth Amendment concerns as the reason for the proposed change.

The ordinance also addressed tethering and a number of new city laws surrounding the issue such as an owner cannot tether a dog for more than three hours each day, an owner cannot tether a dog that is younger than 4 months old, and also cannot tether a dog using anything but a coated steel cable. Using rope or a metal chain would be a violation. Toaz said if an owner is going to tether their dog, they "need to do so humanely."

Detroit resident,Stephanie Crispen agrees with the proposed changes to the tethering policy.

"[Tethering] It'll make them more aggressive and they would be wild and wouldn't know how to act. No one wants to be detained," she said.

Martin Yost, who grew up in Detroit, also believes changes need to be made to the ordinance, but shares a different opinion.

"Some dogs do have to be tethered or have to have a barricade put around their surroundings because think of the mother walking with her child and the pit bulls were able to have access to the child and unfortunately we know what happened there," Yost said.

Yost was referring to the Xavier Strickland case from December 2015. A Detroit City Council member said that incident led council members to start addressing the current ordinance.

Strickland's mother, Dolly Strickland, said by phone Monday that she agrees the city needs to address the issue of dangerous animals.

The amendments will be taken up again in two weeks.

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