Published by Ben Baird Press & Guide Newspaper
On Thursday, October 21, 2010
Summarized by Ramona Kwong
Two recent pit bull terrier attacks sparked controversy in the town of Dearborn Heights where council members were considering banning the breed. After a city council meeting, members decided to think it over night and discuss the issue the following day. The consensus was not to ban the breed but to tighten up the existing dog ordinance. The council took ownership of the lack of follow through in their current laws. They will be drawing up language to increase the penalties for unlicensed dog owners and will call for the Police Department animal control officers on their feedback and solutions to the current issues.
Councilwoman Janet Badalow suggest providing dog-training classes in which fellow councilwoman Margaret Van Houten agrees, expressing that “it’s really some owners, not the dogs, who need to be trained to be more responsible. There are a lot of dog owners who train them right”.
Andrea Kyriacou, owner of You Dirty Dog Pet Grooming, says she hopes if the council changes the ordinance that it would be based on science and not hype or hysteria. She passed out information to the council members noting that breed-specific bans don’t work. An example is Denver’s breed ban, shown to be one of the strictest, experienced a 44 percent increase in dog bites the year after it was enacted.
Lisa Hicks-Clayton, an active member of the community and fellow pit bull owner, says a pit bull’s behavior is based on their environment. Her own pit bull is being trained as a service dog. She says, “Banning doesn’t work. Residents who are abusing the dog ordinance won’t care if there’s a ban because they’re already ignoring the ordinance”. She says, “fine them for being irresponsible”.
However, Valentina Sparkman, a resident, states she “is going to keep coming to council meetings until she feels safe from pit bulls”. Since the attacks she no longer feels safe to enjoy her open yard. “Even if a pit bull owner does everything they should do” she believes there’s still a danger.
Bobbie Green from the Academy of Animal Arts has evaluated more than 200 dogs at her business, which also teaches grooming. She says, “Any dog has the potential to be a vicious dog. It’s when a dog isn’t being socialized there’s a problem.” She pleads, “Please don’t look towards banning this breed”.