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.
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Ionia, MI 48846
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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.