Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sterling Heights weighs breed specific legislation putting tough restrictions on pit bulls

And there goes another community I won't ever be living in ...
Sterling Heights is looking at some tough new restrictions on pit bulls in the city. Pit bull owners would be required to liability insurance of $250,000, embed a microchip in their dog, accompany the dog in their yard and spay or neuter it, unless there are plans to breed, and there may also be some requirements in terms of fencing.
(Read the story: Sterling Heights residents speak up for, against pit bull proposal)

All things considered, it's a whole lot better than flat out banning the breed — a route most communities take when the pit bull panic reaches pandemonium.
But even so, I'm just not in favor of these restrictions.
I look at it from my point of view. I have a pit bull and I'm definitely among the most responsible dog owners in my neighborhood.
Pit bull owner sits at the Sterling Heights meeting.
I can't afford to build a fence right now, so we use a long cable when letting our dog out to go potty. If he barks, we respond immediately (barking dogs are a huge pet peeve of mine). But to think I need to venture outside every time my dog needs a potty break is ridiculous.
He goes out there, does his business as quickly as possible and lets out a single "Woof!" to let us know he's ready to come back in. In really cold weather, he makes that bark a bit more urgent by saying "Ah-woo-woof!" in this anxious tone of voice.
The cable itself is rated for 300 pounds and the hook on the end of it is rated for 350 pounds. He has enough range to give him lots of choices in where to potty, but he stays squarely in our yard.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm doing a lot more than most dog owners who take the attitude that their dogs should be able to "run."
I won't live in a community that bans pit bulls. I won't live in a community that forces me to purchase expensive insurance, build expensive fences and be by my dog's side whenever it's outside on property that I OWN.
I will be a responsible dog owner. I will take dog ownership seriously. I will view my role as a pit bull owner as an opportunity to change the stereotype the breed has.
But I won't allow a government to discriminate specifically against me when the person down the street who owns a lab or a mutt is spared from having to be equally responsible — especially when so many of those dog owners get away with making the irresponsible decision of letting their dogs "run" and defend the choice as if it's their dog's God given right.
Letting your dog, any dog, loose is risking your dog's life each and every time you do it, and yet I don't see anyone getting passionate about that — unless it's to defend a dog's right to 'run free.'

Here are my reasons:
  1. Very rare is a dog that is a natural born leader, meaning your dog likely looks to you for leadership. When you let a dog run, you are forcing it to put itself in a leadership position and it will, though it probably won't like it and won't be very good at it. This means your friendly dog may not be so friendly while out "running" and cause trouble for strangers and other peoples' pets.
  2. Along the same lines, your dog may make the ill-advised decision to enter the yard of a protective or aggressive pet — dangerous for your pet, for obvious reasons. 
  3. Cars. Do I really need to say more?
  4. Wild animals — from coyotes to cougars, they're around here and they can threaten your pets.
  5. Dead animals and other dangerous but enticing finds — I knew a dog once that died from eating a rotting deer carcass. What else might your dog get into while out on its "run"? 
  6. Lost. Yes, your dog could get lost and who knows what will happen from there. 
  7. Respect for your neighbors. Lots of people like to let their dogs "run" so they don't have to pick up dog poop in your own yard, but come on folks, how do you think your neighbors feel about picking up after your dog? It's not cool. 

So I say, if we want to get serious about making people responsible for their dogs, let's start there. We've got lots of good reasons to do so.


  1. Right on, Karen. Breed bans and special extra requirements for particular breeds is an outrage. If this were about people such treatment would be denounced as bigotry, racism and assorted other isms.

    Thank you for speaking up for Responsible Dog Owners everywhere.

  2. That is scary. It doesn't seem fair at all to single out one type of dog!

    I'm thinking about getting a wireless dog fence myself. I've heard a lot of good things about the radial shape ones from Havahart Wireless. They work on two dogs and there is no digging involved in the set up. I think it will work really well.

  3. Why not cut off their legs,take out their teeth.Would you Wimpish Humans feel safe then?'??????????

  4. Thanks everyone for your support!

    Marc, I've seen those fences you're talking about in some dog catalogs recently. Let me know how it works. I've heard lots of good things about wireless fences. I just finished reading Oogy (the Dogo who had half his face torn off b/c he was used a bait dog for dog fighting as a puppy, but was saved by a loving family) and wrote about their wireless fence in the book; Oogy's a massive dog (Dogos are Mastiff-sized, pit bull shaped) and it worked great for him.

    Personally, we have lots of critters — deer, turkey, etc. and neighbors' pets — that come through the yard, so we're trying to save up to build a good fence. For us, it's a matter of both keeping our dog in, and keeping other critters out!

  5. It would have been nice to open the Labs mouth and the Pit Bulls (therapy dogs that were there) mouth on camera so the public could see the teeth are the same size. We have to get that on film. project reputation rescue