Trisha Martinez, a resident of Dodge City, Kansas, has asked the city commission to amend or repeal the city’s pit bull ban that’s been in place since 2005. Martinez owns a 9-month old mixed breed dog named Chica, who was deemed to have “pit bull stature” by animal control three weeks ago. Martinez was given the choice of either surrendering Chica to animal control and risk her being euthanized, or permanently remove her from the city limits. Chica is now staying with a family friend outside of Dodge City. Based solely on the subjective call of an animal control officer, Chica can never come back to the city – not even for a second opinion on the breeds that make up her composition.
Martinez made a very comprehensive presentation to the commission. She reported that according to data from Animal Control Supervisor Laura Stein, the number of pit bulls seized by the city has steadily increased in the past four years, with highest number of reported pit bulls in 2012, when a total of 60 were taken by animal control. Martinez also said that according to animal control, next to none of the dogs deemed to have pit bull characteristics showed aggressive nature.
Other data Martinez presented included a record of reported domestic animal bites in Dodge City since 2008. The data showed the pit bull breed having been the culprit in only two, 4 percent, of the 43 reported bites in 2012; Chihuahuas accounted for seven bites, shepard breeds accounted for four, and poodles were listed four times. In 2008, 2010, and 2011, no pit bull bites were reported. The Dodge City Police Chief said he attributes the decrease in pit bull related incidents to good, responsible pet owners.
Martinez also advised the commission that breed specific ordinances lead to dogs that are not vaccinated, not socialized and have to live in hiding out of fear for their lives. She urged the commission to contact area vets and the local animal control officers for more information, and to hear from people who actually work with animals every day. In closing, Martinez stated, “I would like to believe you are the wise lawmakers we elected and you will take the time to educate yourselves on the issue and how it affects our community.”
The police department is doing research with animal control, and plans to meet with the city staff to see if there is justification to modify the ordinance.
Ms. Martinez made an eloquent and educated presentation to the Dodge City commissioners. The article in the Dodge Globe indicates there are many pit bull owners in the city, and it sounds very promising that they will rally behind her and support the request for the city to enact a breed-neutral dog ordinance that focuses on irresponsible and reckless dog owners rather than specific breeds of dogs.