Detroit City Council considers expanded dangerous dog ordinance

Officials discuss sweeping changes to dog ownership rules

DETROIT – Members of the Detroit City Council have discussed sweeping changes aimed at keeping dangerous dogs off the streets.

The proposed new rules come following the death of 9-year-old Emma Hernandez in August.

Emma was mauled to death by three dogs Aug. 19 on Central Street in Southwest Detroit, officials said.

“It’s been awful, terrible,” her uncle, Jorge Flores, said.

Flores went to Detroit City Council to find out what’s being done to make sure the tragedy isn’t repeated.

“Wake people up,” Flores said. “Make them more responsible.”

For months, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, the city law office and the health department have worked to amend the Xavier Strickland ordinance.

Xavier was a 4-year-old boy who got mauled to death by dogs in 2015.

“It is our responsibility to legislate something so we can have our streets safe,” Jones said.

The proposed amendments would add more classifications for dogs, such as nuisance to potentially dangerous to dangerous. Each classification carries new definitions and enforcement.

A dog owner could also be deemed reckless and face penalties, officials said.

City officials are also considering restricting the number of dogs a person can own -- either two or four.

Those restrictions didn’t sit well with dog owner Omar McCray, whose grandmother left her four pets to him.

“Four pets that I was concerned I might lose because of the new ordinance,” McCray said. “Prior to her passing, I had my own four.”

City Councilwoman Janee L. Ayers had questions about enforcement of all the amendments.

“I know we have to do something, but a lot of this is not even enforceable,” Ayers said. “That’s my contention.”

The committee will reconvene in two weeks to try to hammer out the details.

Every interested party agrees: Community outreach is important. The new Animal Control and care departments in the city plan to reach out to the community to educate people, officials said.

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