BSL ALERT: Ionia, Michigan

In the wake of an alleged “pit bull” attack in February, Ionia city officials are considering an ordinance that would “phase out” pit bulls. Council members have asked for more information and statistics, and a public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be scheduled at the next meeting on January 3, 2012.

Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE opposition to breed specific legislation to the Ionia city officials listed below. Please also include viable suggestions and alternatives for the city’s consideration, as well.

City Clerk
Lynn Lafler
114 N. Kidd St.
Ionia, MI 48846
Ph: (616) 527-4170 x 213
Fx: (616) 527-0810

City Manager
Jason Eppler

Mayor Daniel A. Balice

City Council e-mail quick list:,,,,,,,

City Council: Proposed ordinance would ban pit bulls in Ionia

IONIA, Mich. —
After a local woman was attacked by pit bulls in February, Ionia city council members looked at updating their animal ordinance to possibly phase out pit bulls within the city at Tuesday’s meeting.

The ordinance went through first reading by a 5-3 vote, with council members John Milewski, Gordon Kelley and Brenda Cowling Cronk opposing. Council member Matt Johnson was not present at the meeting.

Ionia City Manager Jason Eppler explained that a committee was formed, with assistance from attorney Jessica Wood of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, to look at updating the roughly 40-year-old animal ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would put a ban on pit bull terriers, but allow for current, legally licensed pit bulls to be grandfathered in. Also in the ordinance, it states that after the ordinance is in affect, pit bull owners would have 30 days to license their pet for it to be grandfathered in.

“No one is expected to get rid of their dogs,” said Wood. “The effect is to phase out pit bull ownership in the city.”

The proposed ordinance also has a second grouping for any dog that is aggressive.

The main complaint for the proposed ordinance was that it singles out a specific breed.

“Our animal ordinance is out-dated and has to be updated,” said Milewski. “But we are singling out a single breed in this sense. That seems to me, we are over-reaching because of what happened locally.”

Wood stated that during her research, which included reviewing other city animal ordinances, pit bulls are ranked among the highest of breeds for attacks.

“I think that we have an opportunity to protect the safety of our community, relatives and friends,” said Council member Monica Miller.

Wood explained that the statistics on pit bulls are not just upheld by a popular view, but are also upheld by the courts.

“Courts have determined these statistics have justified these types of ordinances,” said Wood. “From a legal standpoint … this is reasonable.”

Ionia Department of Public Safety Director Dave Bulling said that there have been nine pit bull bites in the city this year, which is “far greater than any other breed.”

“I think this draft is a good draft,” said Bulling. “I feel you do need to act on trends to protect the citizens in the community. I think it is a good ordinance.”

The ordinance also classifies exotic animals which would be prohibited within the city.

Council members asked for more information with the statistics of pit bulls, and will schedule a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at the next meeting, Jan. 3.


8 responses to “BSL ALERT: Ionia, Michigan

  1. @Karla- There is no credible way to honestly track bite statistics. Human nature says if a dog we assume to be “nice” (IE: golden retriever, collie, beagle, poodle, chihuahua, etc.) bites, then we automatically as a human assume some of the responsibility in the bite. We moved too fast, we scared them, we got into their territory, we must have made them feel threatened, and as such, those bites are rarely reported. “Mean” dogs (those that the uneducated assume are “mean” because of their reputation or their appearance) bite, even if provoked, teased, injured, tethered, neglected, beaten, abused, or the person gives the dog reason to feel threatened or the dog’s owner feel threatened, those bites are immediately reported and deemed as “attacks, without provocation”. Its all about the perception of the dog that did the biting, the person who got bit, and the circumstances around the bite that lead to whether or not it is ever reported. Working in and out of vet clinics for almost 15 years, I can tell you, I have seen beagles bite, Chihuahuas (lots), Doxies (lots) and Cocker Spaniels (lots) bite on regular occasion. or at the very least, attempt to bite… I have always said, I will take a room full of pit bulls over a room full of labs or goldens any day. The unfortunate thing about using bite/attack statistics to back an argument for breed specific legislations, is that these statistics are rarely reliable, the breed is identified most times by the person that was bitten, not by a person with breed identification knowledge or an expert, or by an animal control officer who, most times, doesn’t know the difference between an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Bulldog and a Staffordshire Terrier. I would urge anyone who is concerned about another BSL law on the books to just google “BSL” and start doing some research. I am sending Ionia, MI a laundry list of alternatives to BSL and some great research from experts showing eliminating or singling out breeds is ineffective, costly, and promotes negative media and fear.

  2. I totally agree with you Carla ! And I really question the accuracy of the statistics quoted by these illadvised council-persons ! For every statistic showing that Pit Bulls are the most agressive breed, I can show them 10 that say that this is NOT true !!!

  3. This is the most rediculous thing I’ve ever heard, phasing out pit bulls. I thought our government body, whether local, state or federal was supposed to be intelligent people. How idiotic is it to believe it’s the dogs fault instead of the owners! It’s no wonder the American public is so dissolutioned with the government these days. We have a bunch of morons running this country!

  4. Really????? Punish BAD owners not the Breed. I’m fostering a Pit now. She is sweet & playful, scared because of abuse. I’d be more afraid my dogs ( 2 Lab x, Golden retriever, dachshund, & terrier mix) would bite someone before she would. Aggressive dogs are usually made, not born that way..

  5. Emailed all listed.
    Sent copies of State of Colorado’s expert testimony in case against Denver’s municipality Breed ban, as well as a copy of Calgary’s animal ordinances as a guideline for how to handle vicious dogs on a case by case basis, not a breed basis with incredible results, American Temperament Testing Society’s 2011 breed scores showing Pit Bulls and Staffies ranking above 84% passing rate, higher than most other “family breeds”. As well as breed definitions and pictures of dogs commonly mistaken as “pit bulls” to show how easy it is for the person who is not familiar with breeds to mistakenly identify a dog as a “pit bull”. I hope this information helps. I am also printing it all and sending a tangible copy to the City Clerk @ the address listed above. Thank you for the info, I will do my darndest to not stand by and watch this come to my back yard.

  6. bully breeds are like any other dog, golden retrievers , beagles, and yokies can all be aggressive if the owner doesn’t show love to the dog they chose to raise i have adopted pit bulls and staffordshire terriers and they have never had a mean bone in thier bodies.i think that any person that has agreed that a bsl movement is a good plan to keep are neighborhoods safe has absolutely no knowledge of how loveing any breed could be. since the 1900’s bully breeds have been named the nanny dog’s . they love children, i should know i have a 4 year old and a 2year old ,my newest member of my family is a 8month old american pit bull who truely loves my two children any where my kids are the puppy is right behind them wanting to play.i would never see a bully breed as vicious or agressive .i will keep adopting these dogs and further more i suggest those mean spirited people do the same adopt a dog that needs love and witness the dog change your thoughts on this racist movement.

  7. I recently got my 13 year old daughter a american pit bill terrier puppy for her birthday. I did extensive research on the breed and determined that it is the responsibility of the owner to properly train and socialize their bully breeds, it is not the dogs fault! I read the stastics on the attack percentages and wonder if there has been any research done to see the percentage of bully breeds compared to other breeds in this area. Is there a possibility there are more of these dogs that would cause the bite ratio to be higher?

  8. Pingback: Breed bans are coming to your town next… Speak out now!!! «

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