Aberdeen, SD: City Officials Discussing Pit Bull Ban

During a work session last night, city officials in Aberdeen, South Dakota discussed the possibility of implementing a pit bull ban in the city limits. We learned a few weeks ago that the city council agreed to revisit the city’s animal control ordinance after the issue was brought up by a resident at the last council meeting.

Members of the city council are extremely divided on the idea of banning specific breeds of dogs, and have asked city employees to gather more information. Councilman Clint Rux also requested information regarding the costs of a breed specific ordinance, and indicated that without the addition of another animal control officer, the ordinance would be unenforceable.

The city attorney will use feedback he received from Monday’s meeting and draft an ordinance. He plans to have that in front of city council members by the middle of next month.

Last year, the Aberdeen police department asked the city council to pass a law banning pit bulls. The council debated and voted against that proposal and, instead, updated and strengthened the city’s animal control ordinance. Under the updated ordinance, dogs earn the title of “dangerous” based on their behavior.  Discussions regarding a breed specific proposal have now resurfaced after a recent incident.

Please continue to send your polite, respectful and informative opposition to breed specific legislation to the Aberdeen city officials listed below. Please emphasize the difficulty of enforcing BSL and the financial impact breed specific laws have on a city. Best Friends has a Fiscal Impact Calculator where you can calculate an estimate of the additional expenses on the taxpayers of a community that result from breed specific ordinances.

Its important to also discuss the communities that have passed breed bans but continue to experience animal control problems.  An essential key to any animal control ordinance is its effectiveness in maintaining community safety.  Breed specific laws fail in this regard because they give a community a false sense of security as dogs are declared “dangerous” by their appearance and not their behavior.  Laws are created to deter human behavior and actions, and passing laws that let  irresponsible and reckless dog owners off the hook, and place the blame squarely on specific breeds (or those that look like specific breeds), are doomed to fail because they do not address the root of the problem and do not help to maintain or ensure community safety.


City of Aberdeen
123 S. Lincoln St.
Aberdeen, SD 57401
Phone:(605) 626-7025
Fax:(605) 626-7039

Mayor and City Council

Aberdeen Discusses Pit Bull Ban

By Erich Schaffhauser
Published: November 26, 2012,


It’s a topic that’s sure to attract a heated discussion from both sides- banning a breed of dog within city limits.

But that’s what Aberdeen’s city council discussed Monday. The meeting was a work session so they discussed animal laws and didn’t make any decisions. But some council members have asked for a pit bull ban.

There’s no saying a breed specific dog ban would pass if it came before the council. But some council members supporting the idea, do so adamantly.

“I just don’t see a need for this breed in this community,” council member Dave Bunsness said.

“Is this community going to be a safer community ten years from now if we have almost no pit bulls or if we have hundreds of pit bulls,” Mayor Mike Levsen said.

Both Bunsness and Levsen support a pit bull ban that would grandfather in current dogs living in city limits. But others, including council member Clint Rux, have reservations.

“It hasn’t worked in Denver. They’re still destroying 1,000 pit bulls a year because people are still bringing them in. And they still have dog bites, just other breeds,” Rux said.

Others joined Rux questioning the enforceability of a breed specific ban. Some also asked where you draw the line when deciding when to ban a breed from the city.

“They’re going to get a different dog,” Rux said.

But those questions didn’t deter the strong supporters of a ban.

“I don’t buy that if we can’t do it all we shouldn’t try to do anything,” Levsen said.

“In my opinion it’s a ticking time bomb,” Bunsness said.

But some council members are saying it’s a broader issue than one breed and they want to spend time tackling issues related to irresponsible owners.

The city attorney will use feedback he received from Monday’s meeting and draft an ordinance. He plans to have that in front of city council members by the middle of next month.

The city tried to ban pit bulls within the past couple years but the measure failed with only a few council members voting in support of it.



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