Back in January, we learned that Dodge City resident, Trisha Martinez, 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 in December 2012. 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. Martinez moved Chica to the home of a family friend outside of Dodge City, but based solely on the subjective call of an animal control officer, Chica would never be able to come back to the city.
At the Commissioners meeting in January, Martinez made an eloquent and educated presentation to the Dodge City commissioners. She reported that 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. She also shared the data that 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, shephard 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.
Finally, Ms. Martinez advised the commission that breed specific ordinances lead to dogs that are not vaccinated, not socialized and have to live in hiding out of the owners’ fear for their dogs.
As a result, the Commission directed the police department to research animal control ordinances, and meet with city staff to see if there is justification to modify the ordinance.
On April 1, 2013 the Commissioners voted to pass Ordinance No. 3560 which allows, yet still regulates, the ownership and possession of pit bulls within city limits. According to the new ordinance, all pit bulls in Dodge City are subject to the following mandatory requirements:
-a special annual permit at a fee of $50,
-must be spayed or neutered,
-a leash requirement when outside of a pen,
-indoor and outdoor confinement stipulations,
-“beware of dog” signs posted at the residence,
-a special collar issued by the city,
-public liability insurance in a single incident amount of no less than $100,000, and
-only one pit bull is allowed per household.
Pit bull owners who fail to comply with the ordinance can be punished by a fine of $2,500 or a year in jail. Each day the violation of the ordinance continues constitutes a separate offense.
The Commissioners also passed Ordinance No. 3561 which prohibits the ownership of any aggressive animal with city limits. The ordinance targets “any animal that presents a clear and present danger to the public’s health or safety,” and includes “any animal with a tendency to injure or threaten human beings or domestic animals as well as those that approach any person in an aggressive or threatening manner.”
While we’re certainly pleased to see the City Commission remove the outright ban on pit bulls in the city, obviously, Ordinance No. 3561 is adequate to control ALL vicious dogs in Dodge City without the need to single out any dog by its breed or appearance. We hope the relaxing of the pit bull restrictions in Dodge City is a first step to the ultimate repeal of breed specific at some time in the future.