Friday, September 2, 2011

Pit bulls, crocodiles and panthers targeted in Egelston Township's proposed dangerous animal ordinance

By Lynn Moore, The Muskegon Chronicle

Pit bulls would have to be kept indoors or in a covered kennel and walked with a muzzle under a new ordinance proposed in Egelston Township.
The township board is expected to discuss the ordinance, which was prepared by the planning commission, at its Sept. 19 meeting.
Based on Muskegon Township's ordinance, the proposal targets dangerous animals ranging from wolves to poisonous snakes to elephants. But the primary target of the ordinance are pit bulls, also known as American pit bull terriers or Staffordshire bull terriers, or dogs with the “appearance and characteristics of being predominately” pit bull.
Also subject to the ordinance would be “any dog or cat having a disposition or propensity to attack or bite any person or animal without provocation.”
The ordinance would require owners of pit bulls and other dangerous animals to register with the township clerk within 90 days of the ordinance's effective date, and annually thereafter.
Other proposed requirements of owners include:
• Confining pit bulls or other dangerous animals indoors or in a locked pen or kennel that has secure sides and a top attached to the sides.
• Keeping dangerous animals muzzled and on a 4-foot leash any time they are outside of the home or pen.
• Not keeping a dangerous animal inside a house when “the windows or screen doors are the only obstacle preventing the dangerous animal from exiting.”
• Posting prominently on their property, within 10 days of the ordinance's effective date, a sign that reads “Beware of Dangerous Animal.” A similar sign also would have to be posted on the animal's pen or kennel.
• Providing proof to the township clerk of public liability insurance in a single-incident amount of $50,000 for bodily injury or death or property damage as a result of the animal's actions.
Anyone who doesn't comply with the ordinance faces having their animal seized and removed from the township.
Township Planning Commission Chairman Gerald Luttrull said the township board had requested the planners come up with a dangerous animal ordinance. Luttrull said he didn't want to discuss “specifics” of the ordinance.
“This was asked by the township board for us to look at,” Luttrull said. “It's up to them now.”
Luttrull said the planning commission reviewed about a half-dozen ordinances before settling on the one adopted by Muskegon Township. He said that was because Egelston Township contracts with Muskegon Township for ordinance enforcement.
Exempt from all aspects of the ordinance would be guard dogs used to provide security on commercial premises.

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