Pit bull ordinance repealed

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A controversial animal ordinance is off the books.

Councilors passed an emergency ordinance June 26 to repeal a ban on pit bulls that has been in effect since 2008, a step necessary to join the Downriver Central Control Animal Shelter, planned to be constructed in Southgate by the year’s end and house animals from Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Wyandotte and Southgate.

The cities began sharing some animal control services under the system, similar to Downriver Central Dispatch, at the beginning of the month.

City Attorney Chris Forsyth said under the shared animal control service, all cities must have the same animal control ordinances so officers can equally enforce them.

Under the pit bull ordinance, any breed determined by animal shelter staff to be a pit bull or a mix thereof must be euthanized.

Councilman Harry Sisko said experts from other animal shelters told him how difficult it is to determine whether a dog is part pit bull.

“A few months ago, we had a little puppy at our shelter,” he said. “It couldn’t have been more than three months old. It was determined that it was part pit bull, and they euthanized it. It could have went to a home. It was the happiest little puppy you’ve ever seen. Part of this reversing the pit bull ordinance I think is a good thing, even though we have to do it.”

Councilman Dennis Hayes supported the repeal, saying that most communities in the area don’t have breed specific ordinances. Allen Park is among two Downriver that do.

“Although its emotional and its unfortunate for those directly affected, I think we’re erring on the right side of this issue,” he said. “We have to do it for practical matters, but I think we’re doing it for the right reasons as well.”

Forsyth also said the city’s vicious dog ordinance covers all breeds and animal control staff may still respond to animals determined to be vicious under that ordinance.