The repeal of Waterford Michigan’s long-standing breed ban will be heard for the first time during their June 10th township meeting.
The leg work of the repeal is being headed up by O.D.O.G.S, Oakland County Dog Ownership Group and Specialists. The group was founded by Mary Dunham after her dog was determined by Waterford officials to be a targeted dog. A DNA test was conducted after the township demanded it. The test determined that the dog, Keane, had no DNA from any targeted breed, and was mostly a lab.
O.D.O.G.S drafted a responsible pet ownership ordinance that would take the place of the current breed discriminatory law and has been working for some months now to educate the community about what a repeal would mean for everyone and to address concerns. The proposal was submitted on January 7th and officials have been taking their time reviewing all the information submitted to them.
The ban, which was enacted in 1989, includes any dog with even 1% of a targeted breed. There are 3 breeds singled out, American Staffordshire Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier. The ordinance is extremely broad sweeping in its language. From the ordinance:
“Pit bull or pit bull terrier means any dog which exhibits those phenotypical characteristics which:(1) Substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers.(2) Substantially conform to the breed standards established by the United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers. The standards of the United Kennel Club referred to herein as “Appendix A,” shall remain on file with the Township Clerk. Technical deficiencies in the dog’s conformance to the standards of this definition shall not be construed to indicate that the subject dog is not a “pit bull terrier” under this article.“
This definition, with the inclusion of the language about technical deficiencies, casts such a wide net that virtually every short-haired dog becomes a target.
The ordinance is an interesting study because they include the reasons for passing it. Two particularly interesting pieces are found in Section 3-078 item (g)”4. The pit bull terriers’ massive canine jaws can crush a victim with up to two thousand (2,000) pounds of pressure per square inch, three (3) times that of a German shepherd or doberman pinscher, making the pit bull’s jaws the strongest of any animal, per pound.
5. The breeds are almost impossible to confine without resorting to fortress-like measures; pit bull terriers can climb over high chain link fences and trees, tear metal sheeting with its teeth, attack through chain link fencing, tear loose its collars, and dig under fences and walls, requiring the adoption of breed-specific restrictions on the care and custody of licensed pit bull terriers for the protection of the citizens of this community.”
Thanks to Dr. Brady Barr, we now know that the bite force of a “pit bull” is weaker than other breeds of dogs and other studies have shown that jaw strength is directly related to the size of the dog’s head, the larger the head, the stronger the jaw. Section (5) is an amazing example of urban legend in action within the law.
Waterford is utilizing the materials from the UKC to visually make the determination a dog is banned. The UKC has publicly and repeatedly announced that the use of their standards and literature to enforce a breed discriminatory law is a violation of their copyright and an abuse of the material.
There is really not much of anything else regarding dangerous dogs in the code of ordinances. They have 2 classifications of nuisance dogs but none for a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog. Dogs that bark excessively and dogs that “habitually attack other domestic animals” are the same by classification.
Waterford’s current laws are the perfect example of a complete failure to address the issues that cause dangerous dogs in any meaningful fashion, while allowing people to have the feeling they are protected. The thinness of the law should be extremely concerning to all residents. The responsible pet ownership proposal will cover the gaping holes in the current law and protect all members of the community.
The proposal can be viewed here.
Waterford residents: Please attend the meeting to urge officials to help make the community safer by enacting the proposal and repealing the ban. The information the ban was relying on is outdated and the current law insufficient to affect community safety. A change is needed and now is that opportunity for change.