Dangerous dogs in Sterling Heights
Today’s edition of the Detroit News is reporting that a woman in my neighborhood recently lost one finger and the tips of several others after her dog was attacked by an unlicensed, dangerous animal on on the 4800 block of Chadbourne Drive.
The city has really gone out of its way to enact ordinances designed to prevent this sort of thing from happening. In the past 18 months we had a lengthy discussion about breed-specific laws with some in the city wanting a ban enacted on pit bulls. To its credit, the city administration changed course and enacted a well-balanced ordinance that was not breed-specific, creating significant fines for failing to license dogs and have them properly vaccinated.
You may recall the publicity of the new law; it was fairly extensive. Each water bill went out with a notice, if I recall correctly, there were signs up in the library, and the local free newspapers all reported the story.
Yet somehow, somebody in this neighborhood not only ignored the law, but also recklessly endangered the public by harboring an animal they must have known was capable of attacking someone.
Good government requires good citizens. People have to not only pay attention to what’s going on around them, but they have to be willing to obey the law and try to be conscientious about safety. So many people in this neighborhood, it seems, pay no attention to such things; the result is not only dangerous dogs but fireworks going off day and night, traffic accidents, disturbances of the peace and other nuisance crimes which lower the quality of life for all of us.
By the same token, laws and ordinances are not quick fix solutions to our problems. So often I see our Council having a need to “do something” about a perceived social ill. As often as not, the ordinance does little or nothing to fix the problem, while at the same time constraining the freedoms of law abiding, responsible individuals and taxing the resources of law enforcement. There is a lesson here for our lawmakers: be reluctant to create new ordinances; the unanticipated consequences are frequently worse than the ills you aim to resolve, and the goals you seek to achieve are often elusive.
I hope the injured woman recovers a very large sum of money from the homeowner’s insurance. Were this to have happened to me, my ability to earn a living would have been drastically impacted. Hopefully a court of law will do what it can to make her whole again.