Saginaw Considers Second Dangerous Dog Proposal

A new "dangerous dog" proposal is being considered in Saginaw - for the second time. Work began on developing a proposal to crack down on irresponsible dog owners 13 months ago in response to a 2009 attack on a man by 3 pit bulls when he saved his neighbor from attack. The man reportedly is still recovering from the injuries he sustained in that attack.

The proposal that is before the Saginaw City Council would require owners of 4 breeds to register their dogs for a one-time payment of $20.00.Failure to register their dogs would face $400 fines. The dogs slated for registration are pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds, presa canarios and bull mastiffs. In addition to the registration requirement, the proposal would limit the time that an animal can be tied up outside, "not for extended periods" and limit the number of dogs in a household to 3. Current owners of more than 3 dogs would be exempt through a grandfather clause. Exemptions are also provided to pet training, veterinarian and Humane Society-type of businesses. At this time, it is expected that City Council take its final vote on this proposal at the June 20 th meeting.

As we have indicated in our previous blog on this subject, city ordinances addressing dangerous animals should attempt to prevent attacks and address the needs of the victims who often incur costly medical expenses in the treatment of their injuries. This proposal seems to offer some protection from attack however the protections do not go far enough and there is nothing in the proposal that would help compensate attack victims.

The limit on the number of dogs kept in a particular home may help to limit a pack mentality thereby hopefully limiting dog attacks. Placing limitations on tethering does limit people's exposure to chained-up dogs. However, the language restricting tethering for an "extended period of time" is extremely vague and presumably only applies to chained-up dogs. What is an extended period of time? How is it determined? Also, there no limitation to dogs being kept in fenced-in yards despite the fact that pit bulls are known for digging under fences to attack. Also, I fail to see how a one-time fee would help compensate victims for the injuries incurred through dog attacks. There is no mention that the fee would go toward the purchase of insurance to compensate potential victims nor is it indicated that the money would go into a fund to compensate dog bite victims. Most likely, the money would be an administrative fee that would do nothing more than increase revenue for the city. This proposal therefore does not seem to achieve its intended goals.

Michigan is a strict liability state in regards to dog bites, meaning a dog is not allowed "one free bite" as in some other states. No matter whether the dog has shown aggressive behavior in the past or if it has already bitten someone before, the dog owner may be held liable for the victim's injuries. At Freedman & Freedman, we represent dog bite victims throughout Detroit, Troy, Southfield, Rochester Hills and the surrounding areas in Michigan . We are happy to offer a free initial consultation with an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer, giving you the opportunity to learn more about what you can do to maximize your potential for financial damages.

Contact a Detroit dog bite lawyer at Freedman & Freedman today to talk about your claim and how you can bring the dog owner to justice.