A Unified Government Standing Committee gave preliminary approval Monday evening to an ordinance change that will remove the ban on pit bulls in Kansas City, Kan.
Emotions ran high for some at the meeting, as the public turned out to support and to oppose the ordinance change.
Dennis McConnell of Nebraska, son of Jimmie Mae McConnell, who was mauled by dogs while in her yard in Kansas City, Kan., in July 2006 and died after the attack, said that he had a concern with the ordinance change. If other dogs attack, people have a chance of survival, but with pit bulls, that was not the case, he said.
The Rev. Jimmie Banks opposed lifting the pit bull ban, saying that pit bulls had a disposition to bite, shake and hold onto a person until death, and that banning pit bulls would save lives and protect the innocent.
Another person who spoke at the meeting said she formerly lived in Kansas City, Kan., but moved to Kansas City, Mo., with her pit bull when the ban went into effect. She said it’s not just how the dogs are raised, but also how they are treated at the moment, that determines how they behave. She said she had a lot of rescue dogs, including pit bull dogs, and never had trouble with them. However, she said that one pit bull in her neighborhood bit her and she had to have her arm sewn back on. She believes the dogs’ behavior is a result of their treatment by their owners.
Dr. Elizabeth Wilcox, who works with a variety of breeds, including pit bulls, every day at Great Plains SPCA, said she was in support of the ordinance change. She said a number of people here who may have a pit bull in the city limits may not take the dog to the veterinarian because they are afraid of being reported, and she said her office in Merriam, Kan., does not report them. She also said that the trap, neuter and release program is effective.
The commissioners also heard from one Kansas City, Kan., resident who took out a mortgage on her home so she could pay for trapping, neutering and release for some feral cats that did not belong to her.
Several other people also spoke at the public comment time. There were more in favor of the proposed change attending the meeting than against it; some of those attending were from other cities in the metropolitan area, and several were from Great Plains SPCA.
If the ban on pit bulls is lifted, there will still be provisions against vicious dogs in the proposed ordinance, and that will be based on their behavior, according to Katie Barnett of the Barnett law firm in Lawrence, Kan.
At a packed meeting room at City Hall, the Public Works and Safety Standing Committee gave its preliminary approval to ordinance changes, also including a small increase in the number of animals allowed at a residence, and a trap, neuter and release policy.
Some commissioners were in favor of amendments to the proposed ordinance, but they decided to forward the ordinance the way it was proposed and make the amendments at the full commission meeting.
Commissioner Hal Walker favored removal of a provision that would allow vicious dogs to be transferred out of the city to be dumped on another community. He favored euthanasia as the only solution for dogs that have severely injured people.
He did not agree with the proposed ordinance’s language that seems to allow a pet to bite someone if it was on the pet owner’s property. He said owners have to bear the responsibility.
Commissioner Mike Kane said he was not in favor of increasing the limit on dogs allowed at a home from two to three. He supported leaving the number as it is.
“We’re having trouble with the current amount of dogs running around,” Kane said.
The proposed ordinance next will go to the full UG Commission for consideration.
To read all of the proposed changes in the ordinance, see the agenda at www.wycokck.org/uploadedFiles/Departments/Clerk/Agenda_and_Minutes/2014/pws%20111714%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf.