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Saginaw County may strengthen dangerous dog enforcement

After two dog attacks took place recently in Saginaw County, Michigan, county officials have proposed a new policy designed to help animal control officers seize dangerous dogs. Currently, animal control officers in Michigan generally need court orders to seize someone's pet, and the new procedure would allow animal control officers to obtain court orders at any time--similar to the manner in which law enforcement can pursue an expedited search or arrest warrant at any time of day or night.

The county's board of commissioners is expected to vote on the dangerous dog policy later this month.

The Saginaw County animal control department came under fire earlier this month for the way it handled a case involving a pit bull that attacked a toddler. The 2-year-old girl was mauled by a pit bull in March at her home in Buena Vista, and a police officer who investigated the case said that animal control failed to respond to a complaint when the family reported that the same dog bit the same girl about a month earlier.

The animal control department reportedly did not have a record of any complaint of an earlier dog bite at the home.

In another recent case in the county, a Saginaw city worker was attacked by three pit bulls. Animal control officers were not immediately aware of who owned those dogs.

It is important that law enforcement and animal control are able to enforce laws and keep communities safe from dangerous dogs. At the same time, it is critical for dog owners to take responsibility for their pets. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is the law. Dog owners are legally responsible for the harm that their pets inflict on others and they can be held liable for medical expenses and other damages.

Source: MLive.com, "Saginaw County commissioner: Plan 'puts teeth' in dog bite enforcement efforts," Mark Tower, April 16, 2013

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