Witchita Adopts BSL

pitbull The Witchita, Kansas City Council has given first round approval to an ordinance that singles out "pit bulls" for restrictions.

There has been an effort in Wichita for some time to restrict these breeds. Last year breed specific legislation was avoided when the city council passed a dangerous dog ordinance.

The new BSL was approved by a vote of 6-1.  Council member  Paul Gray voted no, pointing out the city had not really given the 2007 dangerous dog ordinance a chance.  

But attitudes like Kay Johnson’s, director of the city’s Environmental Services, helped pass the new BSL. Referring to pit bull dogs, she said, "We’ve had some very vicious attacks over the last several years….[Concern about] this dog breed far surpasses any of the other breeds…There is no other dog type that comes close."

Statistics…

City statistics show for 2008 55% of all dogs deemed dangerous were pit bulls and 34% of attacks and bites involved pit bulls. 28% of dogs found running loose were pit bulls. 23% of dog complaints involved pit bulls. 25% of impounded dogs were pit bulls.

It is not clear the breed of any of the dogs counted in these statistics was identified properly.

Nor do these numbers tend to show much more than that these breeds are popular.

Even assuming the breeds have been identified correctly, 45% of dangerous dogs are not pit bull breeds and 66% of attacks and bites do not involve pitbulls. 72% of dog complaints did not involve pit bulls. So why target pit bulls? Also, if dogs are running loose, why target a particular breed? Target the owners of all dogs found running loose!  

Pit Bull Restrictions

The restrictions are not onerous, but it makes no sense to single out pit bulls: Under the new law owners must sterilize pit bulls (unless they have a breeding permit!), microchip these breeds and keep no more than 2.

Current Dangerous Dog Law

Currently, the city’s health officer has broad authority to declare a dog to be dangerous based on:

(a)   The nature of any attack committed or wound inflicted by the animal;

(b)   The past history and seriousness of any attacks or wounds inflicted by the animal;

(c)   The potential propensity of the animal to inflict wounds or engage in aggressive or menacing behavior in the future;

(d)   The conditions under which the animal is kept and maintained which could contribute to, encourage, or facilitate aggressive behavior, such as, but not limited to, allowing the animal to run at large, tethering in excess of legal limits as defined in this chapter, physical property conditions, presence of young children, the elderly, or infirm within or residing near the home, any past violations of this chapter, and/or failing to provide proper care, food, shelter, or water.

There are provisions requiring the owner to confine the dangerous dog securely, use muzzles and keep the dog restrained and under control otherwise, post warning signs, sterilize and microchip the dog, pay a $100 annual registration fee, and maintain $100,000 in liability insurance.  Certain felons are prohibited from owning dangerous dogs. Violations can mean misdemeanor charges.  Go here for more on the Wichtia Dangerous Dog law.

The city may benefit more from a potentially dangerous dog law that encourages owners to take action before a serious injury occurs or the dog is declared dangerous. Such a law would give the owner incentive and help by removing the dog from a potentially dangerous dog designation if after training and responsible management, the behavior improved.  

It may also be more helpful to require positive dog training and owner responsibility classes than liability insurance. Many owners will not be able to afford the insurance if they can even find it. That means they are more likely simply to surrender their dogs rather than managing them properly.  Go here for more information.   

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Go here to find and contact Wichita’s Mayor Carl Brewer and city council members. Just click on each name and then look to the left of the page for contact information.  Tell them BSL does not work and only penalizes responsible dog owners and adds to the cost of animal control. Urge them to let the dangerous dog ordinance work and improve on it with a potentially dangerous dog ordinance that requires owners to take responsibility before there is a serious injury and eliminates onerous insurance requirements in favor of positive training and owner responsibility classes.  Send them here for more information.