Ionia, MI: Council proposes breed ban

Ionia, MI, city council is discussing a proposed ordinance that would ban “pit bulls.” A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is scheduled for Jan 3, 2012.

Locals and residents are encouraged to share with city officials their opposition to the proposal, to provide reasonable breed-neutral alternatives, and to attend the public hearing on Jan 3. Please keep your correspondence respectful and helpful.

City Hall, 114 N. Kidd St., Ionia, MI 48846
Ph: (616) 527-4170 x 213
Fax: (616) 527-0810
City Clerk Lynn Lafler,
City Manager Jason Eppler,
Mayor Daniel A. Balice,

City official e-mail block:;;;;;;;;;;

City Council: Proposed ordinance would ban pit bulls in Ionia

By Jon Szerlag
The Ionia Sentinel-Standard
Posted Dec 06, 2011 @ 11:09 PM
Last update Dec 07, 2011 @ 12:41 AM

IONIA, Mich. — […] The ordinance went through first reading by a 5-3 vote, with council members John Milewski, Gordon Kelley and Brenda Cowling Cronk opposing. Council member Matt Johnson was not present at the meeting.[…]

The proposed ordinance would put a ban on pit bull terriers, but allow for current, legally licensed pit bulls to be grandfathered in. Also in the ordinance, it states that after the ordinance is in affect, pit bull owners would have 30 days to license their pet for it to be grandfathered in. […]

Council members asked for more information with the statistics of pit bulls, and will schedule a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at the next meeting, Jan. 3.

Full article retrieved 12/7/11 from


6 responses to “Ionia, MI: Council proposes breed ban

  1. 1. Doesn’t Make Communities Safer
    Lawmakers in favor of BDL claim it will improve public safety, but there are no studies showing this is the case. In fact, the Netherlands banned pit bulls in 1993 but lifted the ban in 2008 because it had not led to a reduction in dog bites. Since enacting the Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 that targeted pit bulls and several other breeds, England has actually experienced a dramatic rise in serious attacks. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes several other examples in their Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation, including a spike in dog bites after the 2005 Council Bluffs, Iowa, pit bull ban; and a study based on Prince George’s County, Md., pit bull ban showing public safety has not improved as a result of the ban.
    2. Fails to Address the Real Issues
    BDL fails to address the real issues behind dog bites. Dogs involved in severe attacks tend to have factors in common regardless of breed, such as being unrestrained and unaltered. In addition, these dogs are usually not indoor members of the family (and may be kept or trained as guard dogs). Chaining, lack of proper training or socialization, abuse and neglect can also lead to aggression. Children are often the victims of dog bites, and experts advise always supervising children with pets. All of the above are issues of owner responsibility.
    3. Based on Flawed Data
    Lawmakers in favor of BDL usually cite the Center for Disease Control (CDC) report on dog bite fatalities. However, they fail to take into account the CDC’s own warnings about the data or the CDC’s conclusion that BDL is not the answer. The CDC acknowledges that many factors contribute to a dog’s tendency to bite, that dog breeds responsible for fatalities vary over time, that visual identification of a dog’s breed is problematic, that there are no statistics on how many dogs of each breed are currently living in the United States, that any breed can be trained to be aggressive, and that irresponsible owners can simply move on to another breed if one is banned.
    4. Impossible to Accurately Enforce
    Approximately half the dogs in the United States are mixed breeds, and recent studies have shown that visual identification of a dog’s breed is highly inaccurate. In addition, the term “pit bull” applies to a type of dog rather than a breed. American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, mixes of these breeds, or dogs with physical characteristics resembling one of these breeds are lumped into the “pit bull” category. Because of the costs associated with DNA testing, it is not standard practice. This means that untold numbers of misidentified dogs are seized and euthanized under BDL. Faulty visual identification by bystanders, owners, the media or animal control personnel is also a major reason why current dog bite statistics, which categorize dogs by breed, are inaccurate.
    5. Taxes Limited Resources
    BDL takes limited resources away from enforcing important leash and license laws, educating the public, promoting spay/neuter and cracking down on dog fighting and abuse. Instead, limited personnel must track down dogs resembling pit bulls (or other targeted breeds) and house them during what can be lengthy legal proceedings, which can lead to adoptable dogs of all breeds being euthanized due to overcrowding. ::
    6. Creates Financial Burden
    BDL places an incredible financial burden on cities and counties. Best Friends has created a fiscal calculator to show the costs of breed- discriminatory legislation. In addition to costs related to enforcement, housing and euthanasia, BDL opens cities up to lawsuits from owners who claim it violates their constitutional rights, who claim their dogs were misidentified, or who have service animals that fall under the breed restrictions (although the ADA allows all breeds, Denver has been sued for not allowing pit bull service dogs).
    7. Negatively Impacts Law-Abiding Families
    In cities with BDL, law-abiding owners of targeted breeds must either move or comply. Those without the financial means to move often have to surrender their beloved family pets to be euthanized. An untold number of pit bulls and other dogs have been euthanized as the result of BDL (thousands under Denver’s ban alone), based not on their behavior but simply how they look. In addition to tearing families apart, BDL forces some underground, hiding targeted dogs and not giving them proper veterinary care or exercise in an attempt to avoid detection by authorities (read one such story here). This is especially true in the case of dog fighters, who are already breaking the law; rather than solving the problem, BDL most likely only pushes them further underground.
    8. Engenders Further Prejudice
    Regulation and labeling of certain breeds as “vicious” or “dangerous” makes it all the more difficult for responsible guardians of these breeds to find landlords who will rent to them and homeowners or rental insurance companies who will insure them, regardless of how well trained or even tempered their pet is. Even those not living in cities with BDL are impacted by this widespread prejudice. The fact that more than 500 cities and counties already have enacted BDL also makes it difficult for families with these breeds to travel with their pets or consider moving for work or family obligations.
    9. Short Sighted
    Breeds popular as guard dogs and for image enhancement change over time, creating rises in popularity of certain breeds and often corresponding rises in bites from those breeds. As an example, Great Danes caused the most reported human deaths from dog attacks in 1979/80. With more than 200 breeds to choose from, many experts agree that when one breed is banned, irresponsible owners will simply move on to another large breed. Those who think their breed of choice won’t be impacted by BDL should think again: Dozens of breeds and mixes of those breeds have already been restricted by various laws across our country. The list of breeds singled out by homeowners’ insurance policies, homeowners’ associations and apartment complexes is far lengthier.
    10. Based on Myths
    Rather than based on any proof that it’s effective, BDL is often enacted as an emotional reaction to one or two incidences within a community. Inaccurate data and breed myths are often brought up as “facts” to support breed bans. This misinformation includes statements about the percentage of pit bull type dogs in the U.S. (which is unknown) and the numbers of attacks caused by pit bull types (which is also unknown given breed misidentification and lack of accurate data). Other misinformation includes the myth that pit bulls have locking jaws, bite differently than other dogs or suddenly “snap.” There is no credible evidence to support any of these erroneous theories. Pit bulls’ jaw mechanism/anatomy is no different than any other dog of equal size, and locking the jaw is physically impossible for any breed of dog. Experts examining the body of a bite victim may be able to tell if it was a large or small dog, but cannot identify the specific breed that caused the wounds. And regarding the “suddenly snapping” theory: Pit bull’s brains are no different than any other dog.
    11. Illegal
    The American Veterinary Medical Association’s community dog bite prevention report states: “Breed-specific ordinances, however, raise constitutional questions concerning dog owners’ fourteenth amendment rights of due process and equal protection.” In addition to lawsuits over constitutional rights, multiple lawsuits have been filed by owners in various cities who claim their dogs were wrongly labeled as one of the targeted breeds.
    12. Unsupported
    For these reasons and more, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Kennel Club, National Animal Control Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Humane Society of the United States, and American Veterinary Medical Association all oppose BDL and suggest more effective breed-neutral solutions to reducing dog bites and making communities safer, such as the AVMA’s community approach to dog bite prevention. Calgary’s Responsible Pet Ownership law is also frequently cited as an example of a successful breed-neutral law. ::

  2. In addition to all these logical reasons, the amount of dogs that will now be killed at our local shelter is horrible. Hold the owners of dogs that are out of control accountable. This city doesn’t even have a leash law. They allow dogs to be tied up outdoors indefinitely. Look at the real source of the problem. Maybe force owners of pits to show proof of liability insurance???

  3. Jennifer Dood

    As a business owner in Ionia we have dogs in our store, every day, and one is a Pitbull. We have NEVER had ANY kind of problem. Thirty to one hundred customers walk in our doors daily and the dogs we have are one of the things people look forward to the most! From children to elderly, EVERYONE loved our little Pitbull girl, she is their favorite! The breed is NOT the issue, the real issue is ownership. We are making excuses instead of forcing accountability! Prosecute inept owners of dogs, fine them, remove their animals, and put a restraining order against owning any future dogs on that single individual who does not know how to own a dog responsibly. Ionia is a WONDERFUL community, we look after each other and we must protect mans best friend!

  4. I am a proud owner of a pitbull he is great with our kids and he is our protector and why some people what to get rid of them is beyond me. I have been raising pitbulls since I was 16 and will not stop I wish they would take more responsibility for the dogs pitbulls aren’t for everyone but they are for us. They need to be socialized and trained I have had many at my house and I have trained many and all a pitbull needs is love. Kill the deed not the breed sincerly tomas alcala

  5. This proposed ban is sickening. I own 3 American pit bull terriers and I’m so tired of seeing these loyal and loving dogs being judged. I am an ionia resident and if this does go through I will be moving. I understand my dogs would be grandfathered in; however, I will always only own pit bulls…not to mention, I have no desire to live in a city that does not accept my dogs. Once pits get banned; next it will be German Shepards, then Rotts and the cycle is just going to continue. It’s the back yard breeders and the ignorant, uneducated owners who are fighting dogs and giving the good owners and dogs a bad name.

  6. According to the American temperament test…American pit bull terriers ranked #3! that’s higher than the other 122 breeds! In the UK dog bites actually went up by 70% after they banned pits. I can’t express how passionate I am about my dogs; they are my best friends and my life would be so empty without them. Everyone needs to spread the word and get support for people opposing BSL and attend the city council meeting and let over voices be heard. It’s the least we can do for our 4-legged friends who would do anything to protect us.