Full Ordinance Name:  Waterford, Michigan. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 3. Article III. Pit Bull Terriers and Exotic Animals.

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Primary Citation:  WATERFORD, MI., CODE OF ORDINANCES §§ 3-76 - 3-84 (1990) Date Adopted:  1990 Jurisdiction Level:  Michigan Last Checked:  June, 2012

In Waterford, Michigan, it is unlawful to acquire, possess or maintain any pit bull terrier, with exceptions made for dogs participating in dog shows and for dogs registered as of the date of adoption of this ordinance (1990). However, owners of such dogs must be over 18 years old and comply with all of the conditions, such as keeping the dog on a leash, using a muzzle, and keeping liability insurance.


Sec. 3-76 Purpose.

Sec. 3-77 Definitions.

Sec. 3-78 Legislative classification and findings.

Sec. 3-79 Pit bull terriers prohibited, prospective application.

Sec. 3-80 Possession of existing licensed pit bull terriers.

Sec. 3-81 Restrictions upon the ownership and maintenance of existing licensed pit bulls.

Sec. 3-82 Prohibited exotic, rare or dangerous animals.

Sec. 3-83 Destruction or removal of prohibited animals.

Sec. 3-84 Pit bull terrier determination guidelines.


Sec. 3-76.  Purpose.

The purposes of this article are declared to be as follows:

(1)   To identify and enumerate certain animals which, by their nature, are sufficiently dangerous, undesirable or unsuitable for incorporation into the residential, agricultural or commercial life of this community.

(2)   To impose prohibitory measures to discourage and ban the possession and maintenance of animals considered as exotic and not easily domesticated.

(3)   To describe and classify the breeds of dog generally known as pit bulls or pit bull terriers which are determined to pose an unacceptable risk to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of this community.

(4)   To provide for restrictions on the care and custody of existing licensed pit bull terrier dogs on the owners or possessors thereof.

(5)   To impose a ban on the prospective possession and maintenance of those breeds of pit bull terrier dogs so classified.

(6)   To establish guidelines and procedures to be utilized by animal control personnel in implementing this article.

(7)   To provide for penalties and sanctions for violations hereof.
(Ord. No. 154, § 2.00, 1-22-90)

Sec. 3-77.  Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

Animal  means any one (1) or more of a kingdom of living beings (except humans) differing from plants in capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor response to stimulation.

Animal control officer  means any person designated by the township to enforce the provisions of this article.

Domesticated animal  means any of the various animals (as the horse or sheep) domesticated by humans so as to live and breed in a tame condition.

Exotic animals  means, generally, the species of animals which are not native to the state or the United States and/or are introduced from another country.

Hybrid(s)  means any animal which is the offspring of two (2) different varieties or species.

Owner or possessor  means any person who either has right of property in any animal, or who has an animal in his care or custody, or who knowingly permits an animal to remain on or about any premises occupied or controlled by him.

Pit bull  or  pit bull terrier  means any dog which exhibits those phenotypical characteristics which:

(1)   Substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

(2)   Substantially conform to the breed standards established by the United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers. The standards of the United Kennel Club referred to herein as "Appendix A," shall remain on file with the township clerk. Technical deficiencies in the dog's conformance to the standards of this definition shall not be construed to indicate that the subject dog is not a "pit bull terrier" under this article.

Poisonous  means a substance which, through its chemical action, usually kills, injures or substantially impairs an organism.

Possess  or  maintain  means the act or ability of having or exerting control and influence over an animal regulated herein, without regard to ownership.

Township  means the township and/or its duly elected board.

(Ord. No. 154, § 3.00(A)--(F), (H)--(K), 1-22-90; Ord. of 1-13-92)
Cross references:  Definitions and rules of construction generally, § 1-2.

Sec. 3-78.  Legislative classification and findings.

(a)   With the increasing urbanization and population density of the township, the residents of the township must be protected from the attack and threat of injury or disease from certain exotic animals possessed or maintained as domestic animals.

(b)   This article is enacted following the passage of Act 381 of the Public Acts of 1988 (MCL 750.49, MSA 28.244) by the state legislature which provides for substantial penalties to be imposed against persons who promote the possession or use of dogs bred for fighting or baiting.

(c)   This article is enacted following the passage of Act 426 of the Public Acts of 1988 (MCL 287.321 et seq., MSA 12.545(21) et seq.) by the Michigan Legislature which provides for additional penalties and procedures for the protection against dangerous animals.

(d)   The township staff has collected detailed and reliable data from many sources on the number, nature and severity of attacks by pit bull terriers upon innocent citizens of this community, the Metropolitan-Detroit area, and other communities and urban areas within the state, and the United States of America.

(e)   Based upon this data, the township concludes that the existing pit bull terriers within this community constitute an unacceptable risk of harm and fear to the residents hereof, and must therefore be closely regulated as provided herein.

(f)   The township has further concluded that it is in the interest of public health, safety and welfare that the presence of pit bull terriers be limited in this community to only those existing licensed pit bull terrier dogs in order that the threat of this breed will eventually be removed from this community.

(g)   The township finds, from many reliable sources, ample evidence to support the following facts about pit bull terriers:

(1)   Pit bull terriers were, for centuries, developed and selectively bred for the express purpose of attacking other dogs or other animals such as bulls, bears or wild hogs.

(2)   In developing a dog for this purpose, certain traits were selected and maximized by controlled breeding including extremely powerful jaws, a low sensitivity to pain, extreme aggressiveness towards other animals, and a natural tendency to refuse to terminate an attack once it has begun.

(3)   Based on the statistical evidence that pit bull dogs are the leading cause of dog bite related fatalities in the United States, and other evidence in the form of individual experiences, the pit bull is infinitely more dangerous once it does attack.

(4)   The pit bull terriers' massive canine jaws can crush a victim with up to two thousand (2,000) pounds of pressure per square inch, three (3) times that of a German shepherd or doberman pinscher, making the pit bull's jaws the strongest of any animal, per pound.

(5)   The breeds are almost impossible to confine without resorting to fortress-like measures; pit bull terriers can climb over high chain link fences and trees, tear metal sheeting with its teeth, attack through chainlink fencing, tear loose its collars, and dig under fences and walls, requiring the adoption of breed-specific restrictions on the care and custody of licensed pit bull terriers for the protection of the citizens of this community.

(h)   These findings and facts lead the township to conclude that a modified prohibition on the possession, maintenance and harboring of pit bull terriers, as defined herein, is reasonable and necessary for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. The board is fully aware that the breed of dog called a "bull terrier," usually considered to be of the same phenotype as the specific breeds banned herein, is not included within the prohibition of this article. The board finds that this breed is not commonly found or bred at this time in the state nor the United States, and therefore does not pose the same risks.

(Ord. No. 154, § 4.00, 1-22-90; Ord. of 1-13-92)

Sec. 3-79.  Pit bull terriers prohibited, prospective application.

(a)   It shall be unlawful for any person to acquire, possess or maintain, within the township, any pit bull terrier, as defined herein, except as permitted under section 3-80.

(b)   Any person who knowingly acquires, keeps, harbors, or maintains a pit bull terrier within the township, after the effectiveness of the ban of the pit bull terriers, shall be guilty of a violation hereof and subject to the penalties and sanctions contained herein, except as provided in section 3-80.

(c)   This section shall not be construed to apply to any person who is both within the territorial boundaries of the township and in possession of any dog for the primary purpose of exhibiting or showing said dog at a dog show or similar event sponsored by a nationally recognized kennel club or dog breeders association, or its local affiliate or chapter.

(Ord. No. 154, § 5.00, 1-22-90; Ord. of 1-13-92)

Sec. 3-80.  Possession of existing licensed pit bull terriers.

Any person who, as of the date of adoption of this ordinance by the township board (January 22, 1990), owns and possesses within the territorial limits of the township a licensed pit bull terrier, shall be excluded from the prohibition contained in section 3-79 as to such existing animals only, subject however, to maintaining such dog under the restrictions and conditions set forth herein. Upon the death, sale or other transfer of ownership, or possession, of such pit bull terrier, this exception to section 3-79 shall terminate and be of no force and effect.

(Ord. No. 154, § 5.01, 1-22-90; Ord. of 6-11-90)

Sec. 3-81.  Restrictions upon the ownership and maintenance of existing licensed pit bulls.

(a)   Any person who claims an exception to section 3-80 by virtue of preexisting ownership and possession of a licensed pit bull terrier shall comply with the requirements as stated in this section with respect to that ownership and possession.

(b)   At all times when such dog is outside of any enclosed structure, fenced yard or fenced dog run, the animal shall:

(1)   Be under the control of a person over the age of eighteen (18) years.

(2)   Be held securely by a leash of adequate strength to restrain the dog.

(3)   Have a muzzle over its jaws sufficient to prevent the animal from inflicting any bite upon another person or animal.

(c)   All properties where the animal is kept, harbored or possessed shall at all times be insured with public liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage by such animal in an amount no less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) coverage. Proof of such insurance shall be submitted to the animal welfare officer upon demand.

(d)   Pens or structures utilized for harboring or keeping such dog outside of a habitable structure shall have secure sides and a secure top attached to the sides. If the pen or structure has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than one (1) foot.

(e)   Any litter of puppies from such existing licensed pit bull terriers shall be removed from the township upon attaining the age of six (6) months, or such puppies shall be subject to all other provisions of this article.

(f)   All owners and possessors of existing licensed pit bull terriers shall, within fifteen (15) days of January 22, 1990, have an identification number tattooed upon the pit bull, at the owner's expense, by or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The identification number shall be assigned to the animal by the state department of agriculture and shall be noted in its records pursuant to Act No. 309 of the Public Acts of 1939 (MCL 287.301 through 287.308, MSA 12.545(1) through 12.545(8)). The identification number shall be tattooed on the upper inner left rear thigh of the pit bull by means of indelible or permanent ink. The tattoo shall be no less than one (1) inch long and not less than one-quarter inch high.

(g)   Any such existing licensed pit bull terrier who is determined by a district judge or magistrate to have exhibited behavior so as to fall within the definition of a dangerous animal under article II of this chapter, shall lose its exemption herein, and shall forthwith be removed from the township or be destroyed, in the discretion of the court pursuant to section 3-83 of this chapter.

(Ord. No. 154, § 5.02, 1-22-90; Ord. of 6-11-90)

Sec. 3-82.  Prohibited exotic, rare or dangerous animals.

(a)   It shall be unlawful and a violation of this article for any person to possess or maintain within the township the following animals:

(1)   All animals, including snakes and spiders, whose bite or venom is poisonous or deadly to humans.

(2)   Apes: Chimpanzees (Pan); gibbons (Hylobates); gorillas (Gorilla); orangutans (Pongo); and siamangs (Symphalangus).

(3)   Baboons (Papoi, Mandrillus).

(4)   Bears (Ursidae).

(5)   Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus).

(6)   Crocodilians (Crocodilus), and alligators.

(7)   Constrictor snakes, or other poisonous reptiles.

(8)   Coyotes (Canis latrans).

(9)   Elephants (Elephas and Loxondonta).

(10)   Gamecocks and other fighting birds.

(11)   Hyenas (Hyaenidae).

(12)   Jaguars (Panthera onca).

(13)   Leopards (Panthera pardus).

(14)   Lions (Panthera leo).

(15)   Lynxes (Lynx).

(16)   Ostriches (Sruthio).

(17)   Pumas (Felis concolor); also known as cougars, mountain lions, and panthers.

(18)   Wolves (Canis lupus).

(19)   Wolf hybrids.

(20)   Raccoons (Procyon lotor).

(21)   Skunks (Genus Mephitis).

(22)   Tigers (Felis tigris).

(b)   The prohibitions above shall not apply to pet shops licensed by the state department of agriculture, zoological gardens licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and accredited by the American Association for the accreditation of zoological parks and gardens, and circuses licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture if:

(1)   Their location conforms to the provisions of the zoning ordinance of the township.

(2)   All animals and animal quarters are kept in a clean and sanitary condition and so maintained as to eliminate objectionable odors.

(3)   Animals are maintained in quarters so constructed as to prevent their escape, and so as to humanely provide for their biological and social needs.

(4)   No person lives or resides within one hundred (100) feet of the quarters in which the animals are kept.

(c)   The prohibitions above shall not apply to any person who is in possession of an injured animal listed in this section under a valid caregiver's permit issued by the state department of natural resources.

(Ord. No. 154, § 6.00, 1-22-90)

Sec. 3-83.  Destruction or removal of prohibited animals.

(a)   Upon a sworn complaint that an animal is a pit bull terrier or one of the species of exotic or other animal prohibited by this article, and is currently being illegally possessed or maintained, a district court or district court magistrate shall issue a summons to the owner ordering him to appear to show cause why the animal should not be destroyed or removed from the township.

(b)   Upon the filing of a sworn complaint as provided herein, the court or magistrate may order the owner or possessor to immediately turn the animal over to the animal control officer, an incorporated humane society, a licensed veterinarian, or a boarding kennel, at the owner's option, to be retained by them until a hearing is held and a decision is made for the disposition of the animal. The expense of the boarding and retention of the prohibited animal is to be borne by the owner. After a hearing, the magistrate or court shall issue its findings and opinion as to whether the animal is subject to destruction or removal under this article. If so, the court shall order the destruction of the animal at the expense of the owner, or, in the alternative, at the court's discretion, order the animal removed from the township under terms and conditions which ensure such removal.

(c)   Illegally possessed and/or maintained animals and lawfully possessed pit bull terriers, who reasonably appear to have become a dangerous animal, as defined by article II of this chapter, are subject to immediate seizure or pickup under this article, or for just cause under article II of this chapter. The impounded animal shall be held at a facility designated by the animal control officer, at the owner's expense. The complaining witness shall promptly comply with the complaint requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

(Ord. No. 154, § 7.00, 1-22-90; Ord. of 6-11-90)

Sec. 3-84.  Pit bull terrier determination guidelines.

The following procedures and standards shall be used by all animal control officers and patrol division officers in determining whether a particular animal is subject to the requirements of this article.

(1)   All officers will initially determine why the dog is being considered for possible inclusion within this article. Factors to be considered include, but are not limited to the following or a combination of the following:

a.   Registration of the animal as a pit bull terrier, as defined.

b.   Identification of the animal as a pit bull terrier, as defined, by the owner, keeper, or harborer of the dog.

c.   Positive identification of the animal as a pit bull terrier by an officer of the department pursuant to the procedures set forth in this section.

d.   Identification by a lay witness who has personal knowledge that the dog is a pit bull terrier (Examples: Owner has referred to dog as pit bull in witness's presence).

e.   Positive identification of dog as pit bull terrier by licensed veterinarian.

(2)   Positive identification of an animal as a pit bull by an officer shall include any or all of the following:

a.   Verification of inclusion by comparison of the physical characteristics of the subject dog with the breed standards in Appendix "A."

b.   Personal and professional experience of the officer in having observed pit bull terriers in the past.

c.   Identification of animal as a pit bull terrier by owner, keeper, or harborer.

(3)   If an owner, keeper, or harborer of an animal denies it is subject to the ordinance, an officer shall not consider the animal within the parameters of the ordinance unless the following conditions are met:

a.   The officer believes the animal is a pit bull after comparing the physical characteristics of the animal with the identification material set forth herein.

b.   The officer identification of the animal as a pit bull is verified by an animal control officer or if an animal control officer is not available, by another department officer after comparing the animal to identification materials, provided that any animal identified as a pit bull by a department officer whose owner, keeper, or harborer continues to deny the animal's identification as a pit bull shall be afforded the immediate opportunity to be brought before a licensed veterinarian approved by the township for identification purposes. The officer shall accept the breed identification of the veterinarian. If an officer cannot determine the predominate breed of the animal in question as pit bull terrier, the animal shall not be subject to the provisions of this article unless the animal is later positively identified as a pit bull by a licensed veterinarian approved by the township.

(4)   All animal control officers shall be familiar with and consult the breed identification materials in Appendix "A" and shall become familiar with the pit bull terrier, as defined, by reference to photographs, physiological diagrams and breed behavior patterns.

(Ord. No. 154, § 8.00, 1-22-90)

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