The attack last week on Candela, a prize mare at Hampton Green Farm, was the culmination of a frenzied month of pit bull attacks in Michigan. A pit bull from the neighboring property entered the stables at Hampton Green and attacked Candela in her stall. The attacks propelled Michigan to the top of the pit bull news. Two years ago Michigan legislators were presented with an opportunity to prevent these attacks, but failed to act.
On June 7, 2011, HB 4714 was introduced before the Michigan Legislature by Rep. Timothy Bledsoe of Grosse Pointe. This progressive legislation called for a ten-year plan of restrictions on breeding and mandated sterilization, during which all living pit bulls would presumably live out their lives in peace. It was a landmark of intelligent animal welfare legislation and there was no reason to expect the violent response it engendered.
The response from pit bull advocacy groups was swift and decisive. Fred Kray1 immediately posted a call to action on the StopBSL web page. On the following day the American Kennel Club launched their effort to kill the bill:
A bill that would ultimately ban the ownership of several dog breeds2 in Michigan was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives. While no hearings have been scheduled yet, it is important that Michigan residents take the time to contact the House Regulatory Reform Committee and their Representative and ask them to oppose this measure (Scroll down for contact information and talking points).The AKC page included a Government Relations hot line number, talking points for pit bull advocates, letters, and the names and contact information for Michigan legislators. More importantly, AKC attorneys drew up a letter to Rep. Hugh Crawford, (R-Novi) Chair of the House Regulatory Reform Committee that would oversee the bill's passage through the house.
~ ~ American Kennel Club News
Representative Crawford responded within minutes and announced that he would not schedule hearings on the legislation, effectively scuttling it. The AKC responded with gratitude:
(Thursday, June 09, 2011)I don't think the state needs to be in the business of being canine police, said Rep. Crawford. He was wrong; it is the state's business, and the responsibility of the legislators, to protect the public safety. But Crawford made certain the bill would not receive a fair hearing; the attempt to control dangerous dogs in Michigan was over before it began.
The American Kennel Club has been informed by the Chairman of the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee that he will not be hearing House Bill 4714. This bill would have ultimately banned ownership of several dog breeds in the state.
The AKC thanks Representative Hugh Crawford for listening to the concerns of responsible Michigan dog owners and agreeing to not proceed with this legislation.
The recent attacks prove that Rep. Bledsoe, the courageous sponsor of this landmark legislation, was right. If his legislation had been enacted Michigan would now be two years into a plan that would have virtually eliminated these attacks.
See also: Timeline of pit bull attacks in Michigan
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Proposed pit bull ban shelved
June 12, 2011; South Bend Tribune (reprinted from Detroit Free Press)
Attempt to ban pit bull ownership in Michigan is shelved
June 10, 2011; Detroit Free Press (original story at this url is no longer available)
Statewide BSL will not get a hearing
June 9, 2011; American Kennel Club
Michigan House panel puts the brakes on pit bull ban
June 9, 2011; Detroit Free Press
Why Michigan lawmakers won't ban pit bulls
June 9, 2011; Grand Rapids Press
Michigan House introduces statewide BSL bill
June 8, 2011; American Kennel Club
HB 4714 would ban “pit bulls” statewide
June 7, 2011; STOPBSL..org
Michigan House Bill 4714
1 Fred Kray, of Pit Bull Legal Network and Pit Bull Legal Network Radio
2 All of the "several breeds" referred to by the AKC are pit bull type dogs.