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Posted on Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township approves 1st step toward 'backyard breeders' ordinance

By Tom Perkins

The Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the first reading an ordinance designed to help address dog-related problems caused by “backyard breeders”.

The ordinance will come up for a second vote at the board's July meeting.

Under the new ordinance:

• Residents would be limited to the whelping of one female dog annually. • Residents would be required to fill out an application and pay a fee to obtain a permit. • Dogs wouldn’t be permitted to be sold until they are at least 8 weeks old. • Residents posting signs advertising puppy sales must display their permit number and provide that number to a buyer upon sale of a puppy. • Building inspectors must inspect the home where the dogs are being bred to ensure it’s up to code.

Breeders also are not allowed to sell dogs in public places, excluding government agencies, pet stores and permitted dog shows.

Dogs used for law enforcement or leader dogs for the disabled would be exempt from the rules. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards, said reports of “door-to-door sales” of pit bull pups are up in recent years. The Humane Society of Huron Valley has also reported an increase in the number of unwanted, discarded dogs in the township, Radzik said, and their cruelty investigators have found more dogs living and being bred in “horrific conditions”.

Officials say the goals of the new ordinance are designed to help control the dog population, to address concerns over the welfare of dogs and to help officials address blight through the property inspection.

Radzik underscored that the ordinance is not designed to address only vicious dogs or pit bulls, and cited several recent cases where residents were breeding Chihuahuas in foul conditions.

Although the ordinance is currently written to ban pit bull breeding, Radzik said that could be changed because an ordinance passed last October requires all pit bulls be sterilized. No one should be breeding them under current law.

The new ordinance helps with enforcement because it provides township officials, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department animal control and HSHV animal cruelty officers a new tool to address backyard breeders that they previously didn’t have, Radzik said.

Several residents who questioned the ordinance during public comment argued most breeders are responsible and cautioned the township against “punishing the good with the bad”.

Radzik disagreed that a responsible breeder is “punished” by the new ordinance.

“This is an effort to regulate the practice while keeping the health and welfare of the dogs and owners in mind,” he said.

The ordinance is part of a larger effort to address issues associated with vicious dogs, stray dogs, overpopulation and other dog-related problems in the township. Last year, the board approved a controversial ordinance that required pit bull owners to have their dogs neutered and also stepped up efforts to get dogs licensed.

The Humane Society neutered 150 dogs in the first quarter of 2011, which is halfway to its goal of 300 for the year.

Residents also must now license dogs. The township licensed 1,742 dogs in 2010 and already has licensed approximately 1,500 in 2011.

Radzik said officials have gone door-to-door to check if residents have dogs as part of the enforcement effort. If a dog isn’t licensed, the owner is written a ticket and has 10 days to get the dog licensed and present that license to the district court.

HSHV director Tanya Hilgendorf said the organization isn’t opposed to independent breeders, but said they increasingly find dogs bred in “horrible conditions” purely for profit.

“There’s a right way to do it, but the right way isn’t going to make you money,” she said.

Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo expressed similar thoughts.

“This is a business,” she said. “In this economy, more and more people are doing this as a side business and it should be regulated.”

Trustee Mike Martin, who helped develop the ordinance along with the office of community standards and assistant attorney Angela King, stressed that the township was only approving the ordinance’s first reading and said he welcomed any concerns or suggestions to improve the legislation.

West Willow resident Monica Williams said she supported the ordinance. She told the board her neighborhood has a serious problem with pit bulls and loose dogs, and her son's face was recently scarred during an attack by a rottweiler.

She said she understood why some people may not like the new ordinance, but said "something has to be done.”

“The township cannot regulate all owners’ behavior, but they can regulate what happens in the township to the best of their ability - that’s what we elect them to do,” she said. “We have people who can’t walk down the street because of the dogs.”



Thu, Jun 23, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

I like this ordinance, but the license rule and dogs being required to be on leash or restrained is nothing new. One day I hope that people will take more responsibility when it comes to their own animals. Whether they are big or small, as I have had more little dogs come after my dog and I while walking then big dogs. Don't be afraid to tell an owner with a loose dog to restrain them, and don't be afraid to report them either. It will take more then just the government to fix this issue. We as a community need to look out for each other as well.


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Good....the testimony of the Humane Society should be (and evidently was) taken seriously , since they are on the front lines of handling the messes created by irresponsible breeders and owners. As a volunteer there I know how sad --and avoidable-- alot of the canine plights are.


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Everyone that lives in Ypsilanti Township or does business there should be proud of the Board of Trustees. Do not sit by and watch things just happen take action and that is what they have been doing. There are those that contribute to running down the neighborhood, and those that oppose such actions, thank God be have the latter. By preventing our homes to further decrease in value we are all better off, this area is turning around! Do you want a Detroit or an Inkster a lack of concern by Public Officials is what created those conditions let us not have that happen here. I support a total Ban on some breeds, we all know what is really in the mind of some dog owners. Thank you all, keep up the great work.

Monica R-W

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

@Jon Hall....Excellent comment. Also, I would like to thank Tom Perkins for detailing this story on the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees first reading on the purposed &quot;Backyard Breeders&quot; ordnance. We have linked this article at our community assc. website- <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> This ordnance would require &quot;backyard breeders&quot; to purchase a permit and meet certain defined conditions. These conditions are not out of the 'norm' and should be welcomed by any 'breeder' seeking to sell healthy animals. It is amazing to me that some individuals choice to negatively view this proposal but, the minute they are a victim of a vicious dog; expect the governmental body to have 'done something' about the 'out of control animal' situation. There is no way for the Township or Government for that manner to regulate owner behaviors. Remember, it is the OWNER on how they RAISE their animal that would lay the groundwork on if the dog will be vicious in the future. Still, what governmental bodies can and should do is to make laws to protect the larger community, even if a few don't agree with it. In this case, their have been numerous incidents in my neighborhood with vicious dogs attacking residents, including my son. Was all of the dogs in the various attacks was a result of a 'backyard breeder' situation? This is unknown. What is known is that, its' doubtful that most of these dogs and being purchased from a regulated pet store or the Huron Valley Humane Society -who engage in behavioral training with the dogs and potential owners, prior to the dog being adopted. With this, the Township I believe, must enact a law to protect a majority of its' populist. The attacks are occurring, by animals irresponsible owners who are not engaging in proper training of their dogs. I supported the licensing measure of animals in the Township and firmly believe this is the next correct step to protect our citizens (as much as possible) against dog attacks.

Ruth Woodcock

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

If they enforced the laws they have now there would not be a 'problem' with dogs. This is just Another anti-dog-owner ordinance, like the one that doesn't allow kennels. Since you can't have more than four dogs anyway, so where is this BS coming from?


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

I'm glad to see the township trying to resolve these issues. I'm in support of this ordinance and the one passed this past October.


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

I really hope this works! At least it's putting something in place to punish those who just want to make money off poor mother dogs and her puppies. Dogs are not money. They are companions, pets, friends. I really hope that the HSHV can implement this and use it to put a stop to those puppy farms. What about kitten farms?