New Legislation May Create “Dog Offenders” List

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A new bill being introduced to the Michigan legislature aims to create an offenders’ list of ‘dangerous dogs’ and hold owners more accountable for bites and attacks.

Representative Jon Hoadley (D) of Kalamazoo has sponsored a bill to be reviewed by the Michigan legislature that will have some tough penalties for owners of dogs deemed ‘dangerous’ should there be a bite or an attack. The legislation has been created in order to help community workers such as postal deliverers or utility workers know when there is a potential bite situation in their future.

The proposed legislation will, in effect, create a registry of property address where ‘problem dogs’ are known to live, and this information would come directly from complaints of anyone bitten or concerned about a ‘dangerous dog.’ This registry can help community workers to take extra precautions when working on those properties, and will hold the owners of such dangerous dogs accountable should an incident occur.

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Adhering to the tenets of the bill, dangerous or ‘potentially dangerous’ dogs would require registration so that community workers could search and be aware of addresses where a ‘known’ dog resides, and more, owners of dogs who are considered repeat offenders could face up to four years in prison if they don’t take steps to ensure their pets do not harm anyone.

Representative Hoadley, dad of who he calls, “The world’s friendliest beagle,” introduced the bill to protect postal, delivery and other community workers simply by sharing information about where potentially hazardous situations could occur. Recognizing that over 6,500 postal workers alone were bitten by dogs across the country in 2015, he hopes that registration of dogs who may pose threats, as well as stiffer penalties for those who are not responsible pet owners, may help cut that bite number down dramatically without having to resort to blanket legislative measures like breed restrictions, which Hoadley is not in favor of.

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Hoadley also proposes that this legislation is not so much about labeling dogs as it is protecting them, as well as humans, by creating strong punitive options for those pet owners who habitually neglect their responsibilities and allow their dogs to continually bite and/or attack people.

Considering he’s not looking to restrict breed, but simply alert community members to possible danger while holding pet owners accountable for their pets’ behaviors, we have to agree he may be on to something. More and more, countries who have and enforce tough penalties for pet owners when their dogs bite or attack a person are finding that rates of bites and attacks dramatically decrease and overall education and awareness of breed type increases.

And that can only be good for everyone.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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