December 1, 2023

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Pit bulls removed from ‘dangerous animal’ list in Muskegon

The City Commission changed the city ordinance singling out the breed as “dangerous.” It was previously the only breed mentioned.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The City of Muskegon is no longer singling out pit bulls as a “dangerous” breed under city ordinance.

Previously, pit bulls were the only breed mentioned in the ordinance as dangerous. That forced owners and handles to have the dog muzzled when leashed outside its kennel. Also, “Beware of Dog” signs needed to be displayed visibly outside the home. 

Owners and handlers also needed to have public liability insurance in a single incident amount of at least $50,000 for bodily injury, death or property damage resulting from ownership of the animal. 

The City Commission made the change during its March 14 meeting. 

Lana Carson, director of Pound Buddies animal shelter, said she is “so excited to hear this.” 

“This is definitely progressive,” said Carson, “It’s forward. We’re seeing places all throughout the country that are doing this. So now, seeing Muskegon getting on board with things and kind of leading, joining this pack, this is wonderful. This is great news.”

Carson said focusing on the behavior instead of the breed is what needed to be done. 

“Any dog can be dangerous,” said Carson, “It can be a chihuahua, poodle, golden retriever. It doesn’t matter. So, focusing on the behavior and the public safety aspect of it versus demonizing, and literally condemning these animals to death in a lot of situations, now we’re looking at the behaviors and not just the specific breeds.”

She also said many pit bull owners and potential adopters can “come out of the shadows.” 

For many years, pit bulls have had a reputation as being aggressive dogs.

“Who knows where it originally stemmed from,” said Carson, “but probably dog fighting and the breeding of that and what people were doing to these dogs. So, it’s just been unfair all these times.”

She hopes other municipalities follow Muskegon’s move to remove the breed from the ordinance. 

Dangerous animals, with the pit bull breed now removed, are defined in the ordinance as “a dog or other animal that bites or attacks or threatens to attack a person (as evidenced by snarling, snapping or lunging); or a dog that bites or attacks and causes serious injury or death to another dog while the other dog is on the property or under the control of its owner.”

Dangerous animal owners must still adhere to the muzzle, liability insurance and “Beware of Dog” signs. 

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