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Detroit City Council passes stricter dog ordinance after kids mauled to death

‘Emma’s Clause’ meant to empower animal control officers

DETROIT – The city of Detroit is cracking down on dangerous dogs.


  • “Emma’s Clause” empowers animal control officers to follow up with owners.
  • “Xavier Strickland” laws mean new classifications on animals including nuisance, potentially dangerous, and vicious. Each comes with additional enforcement.
  • There also is the addition of a reckless owner classification -- someone with repeated violations.

The City Council approved ordinance changes during a meeting Tuesday morning. The changes come after the deaths of two Detroit children, Emma Hernandez and Xavier Strickland, who were both killed by dogs. One of the ordinance changes, “Emma’s Clause,” empowers animal control officers to follow up with owners.

“We have an identity crisis,” said Mark Kumpf, Detroit Animal Care and Control officer. “People don’t realize we are sworn officers, that we can issue citations. We can compel people to go to court. When an animal control officer comes to your house, and you slam the door on him, this ordinance says we’re going to be back and if you don’t answer you’re going to answer to a judge.”

Secondly, changes to the Xavier Strickland laws mean new classifications on animals including nuisance, potentially dangerous, and vicious. Each comes with additional enforcement. There also is the addition of a reckless owner classification -- someone with repeated violations.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones said during a meeting on Monday that the changes were influenced by the children’s deaths.

“Quite frankly, we have had quite a few things happen in the city of Detroit with dangerous animals,” she said.

Hernandez, 9, was mauled by a pit bull in August of 2019 while riding a bike. Strickland was mauled by dogs in 2015. At the time he was only 4 years old.

“Emma’s Clause” is in effect immediately. The rest of the changes will go into effect in six months.

When the changes were first discussed, there was talk about changing the number of animals allowed in a home which prompted hesitation.

Those changes will not happen and the number stays at four animals each household.

Related: Detroit animal control working to increase live release rate

Emma Hernandez
Emma Hernandez
Xavier Strickland
Xavier Strickland

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