Tag Archives: kansas

Roeland Park, KS repeals breed ban

Last night officials in Roeland Park, Kansas, ended a months long debate on their “pit bull” ban by voting to repeal the ordinance.

The vote was 6-2 in favor of repeal.

The discussion has been a long one, with many months of debate.  The law, which was enacted in the late 80’s, had not been changed since its initial enactment.

The late 80’s and early 90’s were a pinnacle of hysteria surrounding pit bull types, with national headlines in publications such as Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine.  There was no real data or science studying the issue of dangerous dogs.

Since we have seen vast leaps in the understanding of dog behavior and genetics, more and more of these kinds of laws are falling by the wayside.

Roeland Park joins a long list of Kansas cities that have repealed old and outdated breed discriminatory laws.  This list includes Bonner Springs, Garden City, Spring Hill and Fairway.  These cities all repealed in 2014.

The council meeting was heavily attended, with those for repeal vastly out numbering those for keeping the old law in place.  Only one speaker was opposed to the repeal.

At the moment, people are still restricted from owning more than one dog identified as a pit bull.  This limitation was included as an amendment and will be in effect until January 2018.  There was opposition from the council to the amendment, but they voted to enact it in the interest of “compromise.”

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Salina, Kansas, family fights for their dogs

A single working mother in Salina, Kansas, is in trouble with the city after her two dogs got escaped the yard and were picked up by animal control.

Jo Ann Morgan has two dogs that officials claim fall under the breed ban that Salina maintains.  Morgan stated that she sees “pit bulls” everyday in the community and had been unaware of the ban until obtaining her first dog.

The first dog, Celeste, was obtained not knowing there was a ban in place.  When the family asked a friend about a good vet in town, they then became aware of the ban.  Soon after, the second dog, Maicee, came to the family because of the ban.  The dog was owned by a boyfriend and girlfriend who had domestic issues.  At one point the girlfriend had threatened to call animal control on the dog for being a banned type as revenge.  The dog was taken in by Morgan, in what was supposed to be a temporary situation.

The dogs escaped the yard when the gate to their yard was left open after a trash pick up.  It was not noticed the gate was left open until the next morning, when the dogs were let out as the family got ready for their day.  A few minutes after they got out, on the morning of October 23rd, Morgan discovered the yard was empty and immediately began looking for the dogs.

They were picked up by animal control in a nearby parking lot.  It was later discovered, on a lost pets page for the community, that someone had spotted the dogs and was urging people to pick them up before animal control got them.

After searching for sometime, Morgan contacted the shelter, where she was told the dogs cannot be released because they are banned and that she would be charged.  Morgan also told that if she signed over the rights to Celeste and Maicee to the shelter, the prosecutor would drop the charges for harboring dangerous dogs.  Salina law declares “pit bulls” dangerous by appearance only, so any person caught with a banned type is charged with harboring a dangerous dog.  Celeste and Maicee had not harmed anyone.  Morgan asked if the dogs would be killed if signed over and was told that is the case.  She refused to sign over the dogs and was given a summons for the possession of two dangerous dogs.

Celeste and Maicee are currently being held as evidence and there are multiple criminal charges against Morgan.  Though Morgan is seeking legal representation, it is an expensive proposition for a case of this nature.

Salina has a bad track record with their handling of these sorts of cases.  Few, if any, confiscated dogs make it out of the shelter alive.  There was the story of Lucey, from 2010, who was taken as a banned dog and released after a DNA test showed she was a pure through and through mixed breed.  Officials came back on that family, saying the DNA tests are not reliable after the vet responsible for breed identification, Dr. Atherton, got a DNA test on his own dog and didn’t like the results.

Dr. Atherton is notorious for bad identification practices, and has, in at least one case, identified a pure breed dog (not a banned breed) as banned because of the dog’s teeth structure.

Morgan would love to get Celeste and Maicee back home but the odds of that are extremely slim.  The best hope right now is for the dogs to be placed in rescue.  When asked about it, Morgan was told that they do not release “pit bulls” to residents of other towns because of the “legal liability” of doing so.

The council is not open to discussing the issue.  Morgan attended a meeting and was told she would need to make a formal paper petition of registered voters and file specific forms in order for the council to consider the issue.

At this time, there is a Christmas card campaign for Celeste and Maicee, as well as one other confiscated dog.  The families are asking for cards to be sent, individually, to Celeste Morgan, Maicee Morgan and Remi Phillips, care of Salina Animal Shelter, 329 North 2nd Street, Salina, KS, 67401.  The families are asking that the messages in the cards be ones of support only and not directed at shelter staff in anyway.  The idea behind the campaign is to subtly let people know that the dogs are cared about without engaging in any animosity or vitriol.

For those who want to help more, there is a fundraiser being held to cover legal fees.  The odds that there will be a fair trial in municipal court are slim.  Appeals are expensive and funds must be raised in order for there to be any chance of Celeste and Maicee being about to get out of the shelter alive.

 

Spring Hill, Kansas, repeals breed ban

Spring Hill Kansas has repealed their ban on “pit bull dogs.”

The old law, which was passed in 2008, defined a pit bull dog as follows:

Any pit bull dog.  (1) “Pit bull dog” means:
a. The bull terrier breed of dog;
b. The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog;
c. The American pit bull terrier breed of dog;
d. The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog;
e. Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than above-listed which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers;
f. Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of Bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier; any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers; or a combination of any of these breeds.

The penalties for violation were severe, with fines of up to $2,000 and up to 179 days in jail.  This ordinance was rare, in that it included the reasoning for the original passage of the ban.

“1. That as a breed of dogs, all pit bulls are inherently dangerous.
2. That the possession of pit bulls within the City poses a significant threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare.
3. That numerous instances of attacks by pit bulls have occurred against members of this community and attacks by pit bulls in surrounding communities have resulted in serious injuries.
4. That protective measures by pit bull owners are inadequate to protect the public from attacks by these animals.”

On November 13th, the city council approved the final reading of an ordinance to repeal the breed ban.  The issue was originally raised at a previous meeting and the city took on the task of investigating the issue.  Topeka, Kansas’ dangerous dog law was selected for review.  The council notes  mention Topeka’s breed neutrality, and the issues they had found with their former breed discriminatory law and the cost to tax payers.

Topeka had a breed discriminatory law that was repealed in 2010.  It makes sense that the Spring Hill Council would look at the information from there, considering that Topeka had a committee that spent substantial time and energy reworking the animal control ordinances.

The breed neutral law goes into effect after its publication in the local news.  The new law will prohibit any dog that is declared dangerous, based on the actions of the animal, and not it’s perceived breed.

Garden City Kansas to revisit breed discriminatory law

A Garden City attorney has asked the city commission to re-evaluate the cities breed discriminatory law, which was passed in 2002.

The current law labels the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier, and mixed breeds that have “the appearance of being predominantly one of those three breeds” as automatically vicious.

This designation carries with it requirements that must be met if the dog is to be kept in the city.  From the current city code:

“The owner of a vicious dog shall be subject to the following requirements:

(1)Confinement. All vicious dogs shall be securely confined indoors or in an enclosed and locked pen or structure upon the premises of the owner. The pen or structure must have minimum dimensions of five feet by ten feet and must have secure sides and a secure top attached to the sides. If no bottom is secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than two feet. All pens or structures must be adequately lighted and kept clean and sanitary. The enclosure must also protect the dog from the elements.

(2)Leash and muzzle. The owner of a vicious dog shall not allow the dog to go outside its kennel, pen, or structure unless the dog is muzzled, restrained by a chain or leash not more than four feet in length, and under the physical control of a person. The muzzle must not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration but must prevent the dog from biting any human or animal.

(3)Signs. The owner of a vicious dog shall display in a prominent place on the owner’s premises a clearly visible warning sign indicating that there is a vicious dog on the premises. The sign must be readable from the public highway, street, or thoroughfare. The owner shall also display a sign with a symbol warning children of the presence of a vicious dog. Similar signs shall be posted on the dog’s kennel, pen, or enclosed structure.”

These things are also required of dogs, who based on their behavior, have been declared vicious.  The request is to remove the breed based language from the law, leaving the vicious dog ordinance in place.

City officials have agreed that since the law had not been evaluated in over ten years that it would be worth evaluating now.

The city attorney is drafting changes to the ordinance and the changes will be brought forward at an upcoming meeting that has yet to be given a date.

Residents are encouraged to reach out to the commission to support a repeal.  Please write to encourage the commission to remove the breed discriminatory language and to strengthen the breed neutral portion of the law to keep the community safe.  There are ways in which the breed neutral portion of the law can be strengthened.  For example, there is currently no definition of a potentially dangerous dog.  A dog is either vicious or it isn’t.  Having more nuanced categories allows officials to do something about a dog that may not be vicious but is not being kept in the safest way possible in the community.  A reckless owner ordinance would also be a fantastic replacement for the breed discriminatory law, because it puts continued responsibility on the owner, even after they may get rid of a dog that has been declared vicious.

Be polite, factual and thank the commission for being willing to discuss the issue.

dan.fankhauser@gardencityks.us,
roy.cessna@gardencityks.us,
mdale1@cox.net,
janet.doll@gardencityks.us,
chris.law@gardencityks.us