Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sterling Heights residents invited to attend pit bull workshop

From Advisor & Source

Residents are invited to attend a workshop regarding pit bulls on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Sterling Heights Senior Activity Center, 40200 Utica Road. The purpose of the workshop is to provide officials with input to possibly strengthen the city's existing animal control ordinances.

City officials have been tracking vicious dog trends in Sterling Heights, reviewing calls for service, examining neighboring communities' ordinances, and tracking the number of dog bite incidents in the city and around the nation. As a result of increased dog attacks and related injuries, residents have communicated a desire for the city to review its ordinance to prevent vicious dog attacks. City officials also point to a dramatic increase in calls for service as a need to review its dog ordinance.

During the workshop, city officials will deliver a brief presentation and then open the workshop to all parties to encourage meaningful, respectful dialogue. Residents will be given a chance to make statements or ask questions about the city's current ordinance and express ideas regarding any necessary changes.

"We are meeting with residents to seek input prior to considering an update to our ordinance," said City Manager Mark Vanderpool. "We hope that this dialogue stimulates ideas that can be useful in promoting responsible dog ownership and maintaining the safety for our residents, their neighbors and their pets."

To register for the pit bull workshop, call the Sterling Heights Community Relations Department at 446-2489.

Update November 23, 2010 11:46am - The following article is by Sean Delaney, Advisor & Source:
Possible pit bull ban to be discussed Dec. 7

City Manager Mark Vanderpool says he plans to present a report Dec. 7 to the Sterling Height City Council whether or not the city should ban pit bulls or simply strengthen its current ordinance.

"It's a hot topic with residents," Vanderpool said. "We're expecting strong supporters from both sides of the argument to weigh in on it."

A similar discussion in September on whether the city should pursue breed-specific legislation that would ban the dogs from the city altogether drew approximately 150 people. At that time, city officials were considering four options: 1) a total ban on pit bull breeds; 2) grandfather in current pit bull breeds and ban new ones; 3) strengthen the ordinance by making stiffer penalties; or 4) do nothing and keep the ordinance as is.

Vanderpool declined to comment on what the city's recommendation would be Dec. 7.

"Regardless, I'm sure it will draw quite a bit of feedback from both sides," he said.

At the workshop in September, Animal Control Officer Jeff Randazzo outlined city-specific data regarding pit bulls, noting that Sterling Heights was on pace to have 170 registered pit bulls in 2010. That's up 235 percent from 2007.

The number of complaints from residents was also up in September. At the time, there had been 315 complaints compared to 230 last year and just 55 in 2008.

With the number of dogs on the rise, the number of attacks has also jumped.

According to Randazzo, during the first seven months of this year pit bulls have accounted for 65 percent of all attacks in the city. In one incident, a pack of four pit bulls chased down a bicyclist and mauled him. In another, two pit bulls attacked a woman and her two dogs in her own front yard after escaping from a neighbor's backyard.

But the pit bull supporters who attended the meeting were quick to point out that a majority of those attacks were by unlicensed dogs.

"Both sides have valid concerns," Vanderpool said. "We've taken that into account when developing our recommendations."

The recommendations are expected to be presented during the regular council meeting Dec. 7, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers, 40555 Utica Road.

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