LANSING, Mich., Sept. 27, 2023 — State Reps. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing), Veronica Paiz (D-Harper Woods) and Joe Aragona (R-Macomb County) introduced House Bills 503941, which would protect dogs from discrimination based on their actual or perceived pedigree. The legislation would free dog owners from interference from local or county government, allowing them to live in any community in Michigan.

“Municipalities in the past have contemplated bans on specific breeds of dogs based on common, false associations between breeds and personality types, forcing tough choices on families,” Tsernoglou said. “No one should have to choose between the community they call home and a furry family member.”

Generalizations about the behaviors of dogs based on appearance have led innocent dogs and pet owners to suffer. Breed-specific bans are a simplistic answer to a far more complex social problem and have the potential to divert attention and resources from more effective approaches to protecting communities from dangerous dogs, such as promoting responsible pet ownership and developing methods to rapidly identify and respond to owners whose dogs present an actual risk.

“The science is very clear,” Paiz said. “We know that breed alone doesn’t account for behavioral differences between dogs, yet this misperception continues. Responsible dog owners shouldn’t have to experience the hardships of the misunderstandings of our canine family members.”

Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona, told NPR that, when it comes to breeds and behavior, “Genetics are a nudge in a given direction,” not destiny.

“As a board member of the Humane Society of Macomb, I’ve seen firsthand the love that can come from any breed of dog,” Aragona said. “Government shouldn’t discriminate against a dog because of fear of their appearance. If you treat a dog right, you have a friend for the rest of its life.”