A series of new dog ordinances are now in effect for pet owners in the city of Royal Oak that includes a provision that requires some people to carry a $1 million insurance policy if they have animals designated as dangerous.
And the city's efforts to give the ordinance more teeth already has some tongues wagging.
Several people FOX 2 asked about the provision had differing opinions. "Having to have a million bucks to insure your dog because someone else may think he's dangerous, it seems a little bit extreme to me," one man said. And a woman we spoke with said, "If people are not going to be responsible pet owners then it might need to be in place."
The new rules pertain to dogs deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous, they are not breed specific. Royal Oak City Attorney David Dillam said, "After a fair amount of discussion, and a great deal of public input, the city commission decided that 'breed specific' was not the most effective way to deal with the situation. So we looked at other ways to change the ordinance."
Animal Control officers will have the authority to make that classification. They'll be looking for dogs that cause injury to another pet, dogs that chase, menace or act aggressively. If a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner will be notified in writing and can then request a hearing before an animal review board. If the designation holds, the owner will have to maintain at least a $1 million dollar insurance policy to cover injury claims.
"The ordinance is based upon a model ordinances that has been developed by the American Kennel Club. The $1 million dollars is used in some other places. It is not an excessive amount of insurance in my opinion, if you figure these are going to be the extreme cases," Dillam said.
In 2012 there were 32 dangerous dog incidents reported including bites and other vicious behavior. Officials are hoping this new ordinance will help cut that number drastically.
Dog owner Patrick Thompson said, " As someone whose dog has been attacked by a dog, I have experienced it before, and the owner did not take responsibility for it. And I have also been with a good friend and their dog was attacked by another dog. A million dollars may be a little excessive, but I think some sort of insurance policy and deeming the dog dangerous is a good idea."
The city attorney says similar ordinances are already in place in Farmington Hills and Wyandotte.