Emergency manager Darnell Earley has approved a new vicious dog ordinance, opening the door to jailing the owners of dogs who attack people or other canines.
Earley signed an ordinance revision June 19, according to the city’s Web site, making vicious dog owners subject to penalties of up to 90 days in jail, a fine of at least $250 or a minimum of 240 hours of community service work if convicted of the misdemeanor.
City Attorney Peter Bade said the ordinance is unchanged from the version approved by the Flint City Council on June 10. It takes effect Aug. 1, Bade said, and will make keeping a dog that bites more than a civil infraction.
“It gives officers have another tool in their belt to impact public safety,” said Councilman Sheldon Neeley, who introduced the ordinance change. “It’s a positive move — something that was long overdue.”
Although initially opposed by some animal advocates because it was breed specific, Neeley changed the ordinance so that it targeted no specific breed and the opposition quickly dissipated.
Flint Mayor Dayne Walling spoke against the change at a public hearing, leaving Earley to side with either the council or the mayor on the issue.
Bade said Monday, July 7, that the emergency manager’s decision is part of his effort to get the council to carry out its responsibilities as legislators.
The ordinance amendment calls vicious dogs a “serious and widespread threat” in Flint and calls for police to notify Genesee County Animal Control to remove any dog if there is probable cause that it has bitten or attacked a person.
Neeley said there have been dozens of attacks on children and senior citizens in the city this year alone.
The new ordinance will not cover dogs that bite a person after being provoked or tormented, or dogs that bite or attack a person who is trespassing on the property of the dog’s owner.
City ordinance currently defines a vicious dog as any canine having “a propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, to cause injury or otherwise endanger the safety of human beings or other domestic animals.”
It requires vicious dogs to be kept on a leash or muzzle when outside of a kennel, pen or house and mandates that owners display signs reading “beware of dog,” keep insurance in case of injury or death caused by the dog and register the animal with the city clerk.