MI Animal Policy — Fall 2020 Update

Matt Kuhn
9 min readNov 16, 2020


The Michigan Legislature has remained active despite the 2020 election and ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, actively introducing and advancing bills related to animals throughout the fall. Largely, these bills either set new standards for what is considered a dangerous dog or are clerical changes to bills to become compliant with other legislation. This will be the final update of this legislative session although I will continue to provide major updates on Twitter (@MattKuhnDVM) as they arise through the remainder of the year. Once the dust has settled on the new year, keep an eye out for final updates and a legislative summary for the past two years in Michigan.

Supreme Court flag flies at half-mast for the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Newly Introduced Bills

HB 6317 introduced by Mark Huizenga (R, 74) on November 5th along with HB 6318 discussed in the following paragraph. HB6317 reclassifies felonies relating to dangerous dogs. This bill would remove the felony charge resulting from a dangerous animal causing death to a person, which carried a 15-year max penalty, and the felony charge arising from a dangerous animal causing serious injury. These two classifications are replaced by a single charge of “Violations regarding vicious dog” that carries a 4-year max penalty. This bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

HB 6318 makes significant changes to laws governing dangerous dogs in the State of Michigan, largely by creating a new classification system to describe dogs as either “dangerous dogs” or “vicious dogs” according to the severity of their infraction. HB 6318 makes a fair distinction of what dangerous dogs are and what kinds of actions separate a dangerous dog from one that poses a serious public health threat. It then goes into strict detail about standards and rules for keeping a vicious dog if the court does not order them to be euthanized. Largely, it is unlikely this bill will have significant impacts on veterinarians or most dog owners who keep their pets on a leash, on their property, or muzzled if aggressive. It is also the reason for HB 6317, redefining vicious dogs, and has been and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

Photo by Anthony Duran on Unsplash

Before you move on, however, there are a few other additions in HB 6318 that are very important to note:

  1. Hidden in section 7, near the very end of this bill, is a little paragraph that would restrict Breed Specific Legislation across the state. Specifically, it does not allow local units of government to enact ordinances that restrict dogs based on breed, perceived breed, or type.
  2. A paragraph is included that clearly states that the owner of a dog that attacks another person without justifiable cause will be held accountable for civil liability.
  3. The original wording of this law discussed “dangerous animals,” essentially regulating any animal that may bite or attack a human. In the new bill, “animals” has been changed to “dogs” wherever it is found. This certainly could have implications for those who own non-canine, yet dangerous animals, such as large carnivores, bears, or other animals capable of harming a human.

HB 6393 introduced by Steven Johnson (R, 72) is a simple bill that changes the standards of public notice for law enforcement agencies that come into possession of an animal whose owner is unknown. Currently, law enforcement agencies who have such an animal or plan to auction off such an animal must place a notice in the local newspaper to inform the public. Starting January 1, 2022, law enforcement would be required to give notice as provided in the local government public notice act. This bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

HB 6421 and HB 6422 introduced by Kyra Harris Bolden (D, 35) follow a similar trend as that of HB 6393. In the case of HB 6421, regarding the Large Carnivore Act, any individuals whose name and/or address are unknown in relation to the seizure of a large carnivore will be notified according to the local government public notice act beginning January 1, 2022. HB 6422 amends the Wolf-Dog Cross Act in the same manner. These bills were referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

Significant Bill Updates

HB 5085, which would allow veterinarians to speak with clients about CBD, has seen significant movement. After a hearing to discuss the importance of the issue in the House Ways and Means Committee, the committee voted the bill favorably to the House floor where it was passed 371 to 107. In its House-passed form, HB 5085 is quite simplified stating:

1) A veterinarian may consult with an owner on the use of marihuana or industrial hemp on an animal o the owner.

2) As used in this section: (a) “Industrial hemp” means that term as defined in section 7106. (b) “Marihuana” means that term as defined in section 7106.

This verbiage is quite broad and likely not to the liking of many veterinarians. It is well established that while Cannabidiols (CBD) may have certain medical uses, THC, or the psychoactive compound in marijuana, certainly does not. Because of this, expect amendments to this bill in the Senate if it is to see any further movement. HB 5085 has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture in the Senate.

Photo by Mike Burke on Unsplash

HB 4035 that would restrict local units of government from using breed or perceived breed of dog as a reason for an ordinance (breed-specific legislation) has passed the House with a large 478 to 88 majority. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Local Government in the Senate.

Updates on bills included in the Summer Update

HB 6009, which aims to ban any surgical alterations to dogs that are done strictly to meet breed standards or for cosmetic reasons, has not moved.

HB 5808 and HB 5809 provide details on policies relating to law enforcement seizure of dogs have not moved.

HB 4102 became law on December 31st, 2019.

HB 5090 and SB 971 that aim to restrict the use of dogs in veterinary research and training have not moved.

HB 4641 that would make it a misdemeanor for a veterinarian to perform a devocalization procedure has not moved.

HB 4340 restricting the recording of hunters or fishers has not moved.

HB 5577, which amends the Michigan penal code to strengthen animal welfare standards for dogs left outside in inclement weather, has not moved.

SB 823 creating regulations for pet cemeteries has not moved.

SB 800 making it a 1$ fine to bait deer has not moved.

HB 5508 banning declawing in cats has not moved.

HB 5486 adding protections for service animals in training has not moved.

SB 780 requiring animal control officers to report suspected child abuse/neglect has not moved.

HB 5465 establishing a Rare Disease Review Committee has not moved. A fiscal analysis has been released and states the committee would cost the Department of Health and Human Services $70,000–200,000 per year but would not impact local units of government.

SB 666 and HB 5273 aiming to end the practice of pet leasing/loaning in Michigan have not moved.

HB 5239 creating an equine industry check-off program has not moved. It has a summary and fiscal analysis available which states that it is likely to increase administrative costs for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development although the exact cost cannot be determined at this time.

HB 5203 creating a Small Farm Coordinator has not moved.

HB 5085 allowing veterinarians to speak with clients about the use of CBD in pets has had a dramatic change from its original script in the form of a substitute (H-1). After a hearing of which an analysis was released, the bill was voted out of committee and passed by the house. It currently sits in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

HB 5125 regulating the aerial spraying of pesticides has not moved. A bill analysis, background, and fiscal impact has been released. Indeed, this bill stemmed from Kalamazoo County’s choice to opt-out of aerial spraying this past fall and would extend their time to do so in the future from 48 hours to 5 days. This would have no significant fiscal impact on state or local government. Although this is the fiscal impact of the bill itself, reducing aerial spraying for disease when deemed necessary by the State could have significant negative financial impacts due to increased disease spread in the future.

HB 4910 defining an Emotional Support Animal and reducing falsification of such animals has passed the house based on substitution (H-4). A bill summary states that this bill should have no fiscal impact on state or local governments. A companion bill, SB 610, has not moved. SB 608 and SB 609 also alter how Emotional Support Animals are regarded and neither has moved. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform.

HB 4911 is a tie-bar with 4910 to update language elsewhere in Michigan law to match the new language in HB 4010 and also passed the House and was referred to the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform.

HB 4496 regarding the adoption of dogs used for research purposes has not moved but has moved from the Committee on Regulatory Reform to the Committee on Agriculture.

HB 4941 which alters how long an animal is held during a criminal trial has not moved.

HB 4931 making a dog sitting on a driver’s lap while driving a misdemeanor has not moved.

HB 4860 expanding the authority of the Large Carnivore Act has not moved. A bill analysis and fiscal analysis have been released. It states that this bill is not expected to impact time spent by MDARD on large carnivore licensure and as only a single license has been granted to date, this bill should have no fiscal impact. This bill moved out of the House Agriculture Committee on party lines and has now been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means despite opposition from several zoological and animal groups.

HB 4833 regulating the transport of deer both inter- and intra-state has not moved.

SB 429 which would require reporting of suspected animal abuse by veterinarians was amended from its original text and would no longer mandate that veterinarians report suspected abuse. As such, it does not have any real implications for either owners or veterinarians and is likely redundant with current Michigan law. This bill in its amended form has moved out of committee to the Senate floor but is unlikely to come up for a vote. A fiscal analysis now shows that this bill would have no fiscal impact.

SB 352 mandating reporting of animal abuse or neglect by child protective services employees has moved out of committee and is now awaiting the Senate floor. SB 353 which would make false reporting by such employees a felony has not moved despite the activity of SB 352. The aforementioned analysis of this bill (352) states that it also would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased costs from the necessary training of employees to spot animal abuse and neglect at the Department of Health and Human Services.

SB 419 requiring state registration of animal rescues has been reported favorably by the Committee on Agriculture and referred to the Committee of the Whole with a Substitute (S-2). A new summary of this bill is now available as well.

HB 4687 and SB 37 allowing for deer baiting passed both the House and Senate and were vetoed by the Governor.

SB 174, an amendment of the Animal Industry Act, became law on December 3rd, 2019.

SB 316 regarding animals for fighting has been moved out of committee but not yet taken under consideration by the Senate. A bill analysis states that this bill would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased resource demands on law enforcement.

HB 4592 which would allow animal advocates in court has not moved.

HB 4593 regarding canine devocalization has not moved.

HB 4594 regarding the ownership of non-human primates has not moved.

HB 4595 regarding carrier pigeon regulations has not moved.

HB 4596 regarding community cat programs has not moved.

HB 4610 regarding community vaccination has not moved.

House Bills 4659, 4603, 4604, 4606, 4607, 4608, and 4609 have not moved. Of note, a bill was passed in New York with similar language as that of HB 4659, requiring information about Lyme Disease to be posted in state parks. Additionally, a fiscal analysis is now included with this set of bills.

HB 4092 regarding leaving pets in cars has not moved.

SB 63 regarding income tax deductions for service animals has not been moved.

HB 4035 regarding the prohibition of breed-specific legislation has been moved to the Committee on Way and Means with substitute H-1.

HB 4217 became law on the 21st of July, 2020 with the veterinary exemption intact in all forms.

HB 4455 designating the shelter pet as the state pet has not moved.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or any organizations of which I am a member.



Matt Kuhn

Veterinarian. PhD. AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. Bookworm, SciPol junky, dad, ER vet husband.