Saginaw, MI: Breed-specific ordinance proposed

Saginaw, MI, has been hashing out the details of their dangerous dog ordinance for months. The ordinance is finally available online, and despite some news reports to the contrary, it is indeed breed-specific.

The ordinance definition of “dangerous dog” includes

(C) Any dog of a breed that appears consistently in the top five (5) of the breeds on credible, analytical listings of “Most Dangerous Dogs” as verified and supplemented by local data and records for Saginaw County. The “list” shall include any dog that by physical appearance could be believed by any reasonable person to have sufficient physical or temperamental characteristics or behaviors to be a “mix” of any of the breeds listed or a “mix” with a non-listed dog where the mixture exhibits the dominant physical appearance of a dog on the list, and any other dog that has the substantial physical characteristics and appearance of those breeds on the list. Such list shall be updated annually and available on the City’s website and in the City Clerk’s Office.

This year’s “dangerous breed” list singles out “pit bull,” Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Bull Mastiff (Presna Canario) [sic], and Alaskan Malamute.

  • How did the city select these breeds (and types, since “pit bull” is not a breed)?
  • What breeds are they including in the “pit bull” category? That’s at least three breeds right there.
  • Do they realize that Bull Mastiffs and Presa Canarios are not the same breed? That’s two different breeds. [Ed note: I have seen this bizarre combo of breeds done in only one other place–in Merritt Clifton’s non-credible report of dog bites by breed. Clifton’s report has been extensively debunked here and elsewhere. If Saginaw is using Clifton’s “data” to produce their list, that reflects very badly on them.]
  • Why are they calling it a “top five” list when the list clearly encompasses eight or more breeds?
  • Which “credible, analytical listings of ‘Most Dangerous Dogs'” are they using (especially since none exist)? [Ed note: Primary source appears to be Merritt Clifton’s non-credible piece of garbage.]
  • What county data is being used to compile this list, and where can the public go to view that data?
  • Who is responsible for collecting new data and releasing a new list every year?

The ordinance leaves these questions, and many more, unanswered. Keep in mind, too, that Code Enforcement officials will be responsible for breed identification.

Locals are encouraged to voice their concerns and request removal of the breed-specific portion of the ordinance. The ordinance will be discussed again at an upcoming council meeting.

City of Saginaw City Hall, 1315 S. Washington Ave., Saginaw, MI 48601
Phone: (989) 759-1400
Fax: (989) 759-1607

Mayor Greg Branch,
Amos O’Neal,
Dennis Browning,
Dan Fitzpatrick, or
Larry Coulouris,
Amanda Kitterman-Miller,
Dr. William “Bill” Scharffe,
Paul Virciglio,
Andrew Wendt,

Email quicklist;;;;;;;;

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10 responses to “Saginaw, MI: Breed-specific ordinance proposed

  1. I have a Rotty, a GSD and an English mastiff and there is nothing dangerous about any of them. Well, if you’re water soluble I suppose there could be a danger but that’s about it.

    BSL is one of the biggest lies perpetrated on communities. Implementation of BSL gives some people a false sense of security while accomplishing nothing. It also gives ‘consultants’ who specialize in whipping communities into a frenzy about ‘dangerous dogs’ an income stream. In the end, BSL does nothing except kill innocent dogs.

  2. Laurel M. Ashley

    BSL is unfair, unconstitutional, expensive, and doesn’t work . Anyone who supports it is ignorant, prejudice, and unjust.
    My daughter grew up with our own rescued Pit Bull and Rottweilers who became Therapy Dogs, and well as many rescued Pit Bulls I fostered.
    Neither she or any of her friends was ever harmed in the least by these lovely dogs.
    I am now a senior and disabled and my service dog is a Rottweiler. She is adored by everyone who meets her.
    You who would label her dangerous based on breed are blind to fact and reason.

  3. I can only say that Saginaw, MI has to have lost its sanity. There is no other reason for them to have crafted such an unfair, ridiculous, mistake-ridden ordinance! BSL does NOT work…they obviously are too dense and have been taken in by hysterical fear-mongering fools who spread rumors and falsehoods. Shame on you, Saginaw! Shame on you! My grandchildren were raised around Rottweilers and there was NEVER a problem. NOT ONE! The female nursed motherless kittens on her own! Why aren’t you including Pomeranians on your list if you are going to insist on being so stupid!? A few years ago a Pom killed a baby laid on a bed next to it. In my anger, yes, I am calling you names, but you know what, you deserve to be called those names and worse! No, it won’t get me anywhere, but you also deserve to know what the world thinks of you. Not much I can tell you…not much!

  4. I live in Flint. I have a suspicion that this ordinance comes as a reactionary policy that is aimed more at dog fighting than anything else. There is a HUGE problem with breeding done in this area specifically for that purpose and, however unfair this is to responsible dog owners, could be used to curtail that problem. This is a way to stop the breeding of dogs for dog fighting, because these breeds (however much dog fanciers realize that “breed” is being used vaguely here) are preferred by dog fighting circles. I understand your righteous indignation, as these types of dogs are not actually dangerous by nature and it smacks of collective punishment. My advice is, if you write letters to Saginaw explaining why this ordinance is unreasonable, you also include real and well-researched suggestions to how they could deal with the pervasive and dangerous problems that the city is facing concerning the maltreatment of dogs, and irresponsible breeding of these particular types of dogs.

    • While the concern is understandable, most of the breeds that Saginaw has listed as “dangerous” (German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, Rottweiler, Bullmastiff) are not commonly used in dog fighting. Also, it’s unclear how this ordinance would affect dog fighting in any way. The city council has never mentioned dog fighting as a concern. Rather, they have repeatedly stated their belief that some dog breeds are naturally and definitively more dangerous than other breeds. Several council members have made it clear that they simply despise these breeds–and their owners. The ordinance has been put forth as a way to protect the city’s residents from these breeds.

      City council has been provided with effective breed-neutral ordinances galore. People have tried to educate them, inform them, and persuade them. Their replies have been disrespectful at best, and in at least one case, potentially racist (it was one of those “wait, did he really mean THAT??” moments when I read that email). They have hypocritically stated that they do not want to hear from “outsiders.” (Well, it was not so polite when they said it.) I’m not sure what more can be done, since it all seems to be falling on deaf ears.

    • Ah! Thanks for the reply.

      Yeah, I know SOME of those dogs are used in fighting, but yeah, I know not all of them are (especially Malamutes – never heard of anyone fighting those). I was especially confused by the German Shepard since it’s a working dog.

      The dog ownership culture can be pretty pathological in the area because of the high crime rate (presumably). Dogs are used to be territorial and intimidating. When I take my child out for a walk I always carry pepper-spray, not because I am worried about people attacking us, but because I am worried about dogs. I don’t know if Saginaw has the same problems, but I suspect they are just as bad if not worse. There has been trouble with dog-fighting in the past as well.

      I am not surprised about the racist comments either. Race and class relations in this area are….ummm….complicated.

      I don’t actually live in Saginaw, so I doubt they would listen to me. I’m also not as versed about the issue as your organization seems to be. I appreciate you attempting to educate them. If Flint attempts such a thing, I will know who to get information from. Thanks so much.

    • Thanks for the good insight into the local culture. I definitely appreciate local perspectives on these kinds of issues. Different areas of the country actually do demonstrate different attitudes toward dogs and dog issues, they perceive somewhat different problems, and they lean toward different solutions to those problems. So it can be difficult to speak to the particulars of a situation when I’m not even in the same state. Thank you for taking the time!

  5. I have raised Alaskan Malamutes with my children, grand-children, and now, great-grandchildren for over 30 years and have NEVER had an incident of any kind. Of course, there are some people that are totally irresponsible, not only with their dogs, but don’t think you are doing the right thing by punishing the thousands of responsible “dog” people who breed, raise and enjoy the comfort of a cherished pet. THAT is irresponsible.

  6. Do not include malamutes in vicious dogs categories I know many little poodles that are much worse tempermanents, if you train any dog wrong, they can become a vicious dog! Holly donovan

  7. I have a Bull Mastiff and an English Mastiff – they may be a danger if you don’t like cuddling.