You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township considers extending mandatory pit bull sterilization ordinance

By Tom Perkins

The number of pit bulls euthanized and brought in to the Humane Society of Huron Valley from Ypsilanti Township has been cut roughly in half over the last two years. Ypsilanti Township and Humane Society staff say that is a direct result of an ordinance put in place in 2010 requiring pit bull owners to sterilize their dogs.

Now, township staff and the HSHV are asking the Board of Trustees to make that ordinance permanent. The board approved a first reading of the ordinance at their regular November meeting and will consider a second reading in January.

In October 2010, the board approved the ordinance with a two-year sunset clause that would allow officials to assess its effectiveness before extending it.

“The trends are moving in the right direction, and this now-proven strategy should be continued into the future in order to realize its full potential,” Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards, wrote in a letter to the board.

Township and Humane Society staff highlighted evidence they say demonstrates the ordinance has reduced the number of pit bulls euthanized, reduced the number of the breed taken into the facility and controlled its population.

So far, more than 700 pit bulls have been sterilized for free through a grant awarded to the HSHV from PetSmart, and the program has enough funds left to sterilize another 150.

In 2011, as the law went into effect, 237 pit bulls were brought into the Humane Society. That number has dropped to 113 through the end of October and is projected to rise to 135 by the end of the year.

Euthanasia of pit bulls dropped from a peak of 139 dogs in 2009 to 103 in 2011 and 56 through the end of October. Officials are projecting putting down 58 pit bulls total in 2012.

Jenny Paillon, director of operations at the HSHV, said there is an overpopulation of pit bulls in Washtenaw County, and the bulk are in Ypsilanti Township. More pit bulls enter the shelter than any other breed, she said, and they are also the breed most often picked up as strays, involved in cruelty cases and euthanized.

Paillon said pit bulls brought to the shelter are often emaciated, untrained and under-socialized.

“We do everything in our power to provide needed medical treatment and behavioral rehabilitation in order to make them adoptable—a costly and time-intensive task that unfortunately does not always have a happy ending,” Paillon said. “But increasingly it does as we see the tide of pit bulls beginning to stem with the help of this progressive ordinance by animal-loving, forward-thinking officials in Ypsilanti Township.”

The chances of pit bulls leaving the shelter alive have increased from 40 percent to 60 percent over the last two years.

According to Humane Society statistics, pit bulls accounted for 36 percent of the dogs euthanized in 2006, down from 50 percent in 2010.

In 2010, Ypsilanti Township accounted for nearly 50 percent of the shelter’s pit bull intake, while 11.2 percent came from the City of Ypsilanti and 7.4 percent from Ann Arbor.

“The focus on Ypsilanti Township stems from our statistics that half of the pits coming to us from the community were living in this municipality,” Paillon said. “Ypsilanti Township was open and willing to discuss solutions to being able to have a healthy and manageable community for dogs, thereby alleviating this epidemic of needless abuse and overpopulation without further hurting the breed.”

At the time the ordinance was passed, staff said they were hopeful it would also reduce the number of pit bulls involved in attacks and have an impact on backyard fighting, though that wasn’t the ordinance’s purpose.

The township board approved the legislation by a vote of 5-1, with trustee Mike Martin voting against it. He contended that the main problems surrounding pit bulls — backyard breeders, dog fighting, irresponsible owners and aggressive dogs — were not addressed in the ordinance.

Martin acknowledged there has been some progress in controlling the pit bull population but said there should be an ordinance that doesn’t single out the breed and applies to all animals. Feral cats, for instance, are a huge problem in Ypsilanti Township, he said.

“There needs to be a more extensive program to control the animal population and improve their welfare in township,” Martin said. “But we’ve made significant improvements and are heading in the right direction.”

Because a pit bull isn’t technically a breed of dog, the ordinance defines it as Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers or any mix breed exhibiting five out of eight physical characteristics defined in the ordinance.

Residents who violate the law face criminal misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.


Jaloney Caldwell

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

This is wonderful news. When dog fighting was legal, no one incuding dog fighters promoted pitbulls as pets. After the government made dog fighting illegal they spent millions on a public relations campaign to popularize the breed so they can hide their vicious and sadistic "sport" in plain sight. Pitbull owners are duped. They are the pawns of dog fighters that don't care about human victims or pitbulls. Every pitbull owned helps hide dog fighters. dupe (dp, dyp) 1. An easily deceived person. 2. A person who functions as the tool of another person or power. 3. To deceive (an unwary person). See Synonyms at deceive. tr.v. duped, dup•ing, dupes

Merritt Clifton

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:44 a.m.

The current U.S. pit bull population is about 3.2 million, and it has been about three million for about 10 years now, according to the annual ANIMAL PEOPLE surveys of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption. About one million pit bulls per year enter animal shelters, about two-thirds surrendered by their keepers, most of the rest impounded for dangerous behavior. Most of these dogs have already been through three homes -- their birth home, the home that bought them, and a subsequent pass-along home, before they arrive at shelters. An average of just over 900,000 pit bulls per year over the past 10 years have been killed in shelters after flunking behavioral screening, with a peak of 967,000, a low of 835,000, and 910,000 killed last year. This is about 60% of all the dogs killed in U.S. shelters today, up from about 50% in 2003. The average age of pit bulls killed in animal shelters is about 18 months. So what we have at any given time is a third of the pit bull population having not yet reached maturity, a third (at most) in homes they will still occupy at the end of the year, and a third flunking out of homes and being killed -- which translates into a 50% failure rate among adult dogs in homes each & every year. Among all other dog breeds combined, about 5% enter shelters each year.

Merritt Clifton

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:27 a.m.

Nationally, pit bulls & other bully breeds are now 38% of the dogs arriving at animal control shelters; 37% of the dogs arriving at all open admission shelters, including humane societies as well as animal control agencies. This is a 23% increase over last year, and a 61% increase over 2003. Not surprisingly, the percentage of pit bulls killed at open admission shelters edged up from 87% last year to 89% this year. We're talking about an average of 900,000 pit bulls per year killed in shelters since 2000, mostly after flunking behavioral screening. But bully breeds are only 4% of the inventory of selective admission & no-kill shelters.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Once again an opinion was censored BECAUSE of the opinion.....well done done indeed. Everytime you do it....I win.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

There are breeders, and I mean "professional" breeders, who breed dogs with the intent of creating as many as possible, with no regard to the characteristics their miscellaneous dogs pass on to their pups. The object, of course, is to sell, sell, sell. These people could afford the license. Who will regulate their pathetic money grubbing? Dog breeds that traditionally have a gentle disposition can turn nasty by this method. Of course, PBs running wild and breeding wherever are the worst result of random breeding.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

I agree with the sentiment, but whenever I look for a dog I find a lot of info about the parents and a lot of bragging about how great the parents are. I've known of people who aren't registered breeders who breed just to make money though.

Dog Guy

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

This article begins "The number of pit bulls," but never relates it to the number of dogfighting pits operating around here. "Paillon said pit bulls brought to the shelter are often emaciated, untrained and under-socialized." Undersocialized and emaciated is fighting trim. Ypsilanti Township families get losing pit bulls as surely as Ann Arbor gets slow greyhounds.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Well how many "dogfighting pits operating around here" are there? This wasn't an article about dog fighting, but it's very telling that you instantly think of that when you see the words "pit bull".


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

ALL pets should be neutered. Unless you are a registered breeder (and I agree w/ the posters who say it should be highly regulated, and expensive) there is no rational need to have an unfixed pet. And yes, that includes cats!


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Not to mention getting them fixed has the side effect of curbing certain undesirable behaviors.


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

This should be mandatory everywhere, for every breed, unless you have some sort of breeding certificate or papers. I foster homeless animals and help with networks of volunteers that transport and pull animals about to be gassed/euthanized from animal control facilities. A lot of times they're mutts, pointer and hound mixes... This is not about whether PB's are dangerous, it's about a needless population issue. The ordinance may as well extend out to all breeds, but doesn't look like that's going to happen soon. Please spay and neuter all of your pets!!!