Dog lovers and animal advocacy organizations are coming together to make Michigan the next state to ban laws that discriminate against certain breeds of dogs based solely on their looks.
Breed specific legislation (BSL), or breed discriminatory legislation (BDL), has unfairly targeted dogs based solely on their appearance, without regard to their actual temperament or whether or not they have responsible owners. These types of laws have mostly been aimed at pit bulls, or pit bull mixes, but other breeds have also been targeted.
The Centers for Disease Control, the American Bar Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association, among dozens of other organizations, have all come out opposing BSL and recommend community-based approaches for preventing dog bites and dealing with dangerous dogs and their owners.
Thankfully, attitudes and laws are changing to reflect reality. Already 19 states have enacted laws that ban this type of discrimination. Now, Make Michigan Next (MMN), a newly formed coalition made up of animal advocacy groups and citizens, is taking up the fight to make their state the next to make this common sense change. According to the group, more than 35 breeds face some sort of discrimination in the state.
Last week an estimated 500 dog loving voters took part in a rally at the state’s capitol to show their support for a state law banning BSL. Advocates for a statewide ban argue that these types of laws are tearing families apart, killing innocent dogs and have also raised serious concerns about our ability, including that of experts, to properly identify a type of breed based on what they look like.
“Dogs have no control over their environment, but their owners do,” said Courtney Protz-Sanders, a MMN coalition member. “This rally is about everyone’s right to own dogs and the need to stop discrimination based on appearance. Right now, because we have no state law to protect us, any breed of dog can be banned from visiting or living in any township, city or county in Michigan.”
Ultimately, their goal is to get lawmakers to make a simple amendment to a state law that will allow municipalities to make any dog-related ordinance they want, just so long as they are not breed specific. According to MMN, following the rally several legislators expressed interest in introducing a bill.
“It’s time to bring Michigan law into the modern era. There is no place for discrimination in our society,” Protz-Sanders said. “We are the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. They don’t vote, but we do.”
Please show your support for ending discrimination in Michigan by signing and sharing Make Michigan Next’s Care2 petition urging lawmakers to repeal existing breed bans and to enact a statewide ban on BSL.