Committee passes 'dangerous dog' policy - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Committee passes 'dangerous dog' policy

A dog chained up in his back yard. A dog chained up in his back yard.

A special committee has just passed a new "dangerous dog" policy for Saginaw County.

This clears the way for the proposal to move to the full Board of Commissioners, possibly by the end of this month. It comes just a day after a city worker was attacked by pit bulls and just three weeks after a 3-year-old girl was mauled by her family's dog.

"I think these policies represent the extent that we can go to protect the public from dangerous animals," said county commissioner Mike Hanley.

Saginaw County Animal Shelter Director Kevin Wilken says there is a need for a new dangerous dog policy. And because of that, the Saginaw County Commissioners are asking Animal Control officials to draw up a new policy. But Wilken says don't expect major changes.

"We've actually already had this in place. We never had it in writing, so this formalizes what we've been doing. It makes it clear to exactly what criteria we're looking at," said Wilken.

The written policy will contain a plan for Animal Control officers to follow if they think the following violations would warrant an investigation:

  • If a dog has bitten or attacked someone.
  • If a dog has bitten or attacked another animal.
  • When the dog has destroyed someone's property.
  • If a dog is found running free.

To determine if a complaint should be filed against the dog's owner, they would consider the following: the dog's history, if the dog was defending its property, the size of the dog, the severity of the damage, the history of the owner and if the dog poses a threat.

Animal Control officials say the dangerous dog policy is based on state law and doesn't have anything to do with recent attacks in the area, like when a little girl was mauled in Buena Vista Township or Tuesday when a city worker was attacked by three pit bulls. Animal Control officials say this is based on dog attacks from the last year.

"We've come to understand from our council that there may need to be some reform in our state laws, because currently, animals really have more rights to be dangerous than humans," said Hanley, talking about the current, and what he calls outdated, state law.

Under the current state law, dogs are treated as personal property. Like the television or computer in your home, law enforcement cannot seize personal property without a warrant.  Some commissioners say they plan to speak to state lawmakers to discuss this and possibly discuss a change.

"To me, the dog should be confined, and then the judge can make the judgement of whether the dog gets let loose again or not," said county commissioner Sue McInerney.

The county commissioners tell TV5 they want to have an ordinance that will protect the public from dangerous dogs entirely.

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