The city of Yakima, Washington banned pit bulls in the city limits in 1987. Like all breed specific ordinances, it is difficult, if not impossible to enforce, and after 26 years, animal control officers continue to seize pit bull-type dogs because they are in the city illegally.
Yakima has a dangerous dog ordinance which deems dogs as “dangerous” based on their behavior and actions. The generic DDO allows animal control officers to restrict dogs that have shown signs of serious aggression, and the dogs that behave the most dangerously can be confiscated. But even this ordinance is rarely used, and the four animal control officers say they are hard-pressed to keep up with strays and pit bulls.
Dogs found running-at-large and determined to be “pit bulls” are confiscated immediately and turned over to the Humane Society of Central Washington in Yakima. When a “pit bull” is seized by animal control on a first offense, dog owners are given 48 hours to remove it from city limits. According to a humane society representative, owners fearing confiscation of their family members often hide their dogs, which results in unsocialized, timid animals that are more prone to bite out of fear. For the year 2013 to date, the city has responded to 128 reports of pit bulls and impounded 37. Again, these are dogs being impounded, thus putting a strain on city (i.e., tax-payer) resources, because of their appearance only.
At the city council meeting on September 17, 2013, several residents addressed the Yakima officials on the various problems related to the enforcement and failure of the ban. The general consensus among those who spoke was that the issue of a dog’s aggressiveness falls more on the owner and not the breed.
As a result, the Yakima City Council has agreed to look into the possible repeal of the decades-old ban. The earliest the issue can be brought back before the council is November.
Please take this opportunity to encourage the Yakima city officials to repeal their outdated and unenforceable breed specific ordinance. Officials really need to look no farther than their own statistics to see that the ordinance cannot be enforced, forces the city (and its tax paying citizens) to bear unnecessary costs, and punishes responsible dog owners by taking away their well-behaved dogs. Most importantly, removing dogs from a community based only on their perceived breed rather than demonstrated aggressive or dangerous behavior does not enhance the safety of a community. Instead, it only gives residents a false sense of security.
Finally, please remember to be polite and respectful in all your communications with officials. Keep in mind that the city’s pit bull ban has been in place for over two decades, and those sitting in decision making positions in Yakima now may have a completely different opinion on breed specific ordinances than their predecessors. In addition, there is much more solid, fact-based research and information available today for their consideration which supports the use of generic, breed-neutral ordinances that focus on irresponsible and reckless dog owners as opposed to targeting specific breeds of dogs.
Please help bring positive change to Yakima, and ask the city officials to repeal their pit bull ban.
Mayor and City Council
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If you are in or near Yakima and would like to address the city council, you can find information about doing so here: http://www.yakimawa.gov/council/addressing-the-city-council/