The first meeting of the committee formed to study a ban on pit bulls in the Great Bend, Kansas city limits was held on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. The group was empaneled by Mayor Mike Allison to study a ban, seek public input, and present ideas to the city council. Information packets that included copies of the existing regulations were handed out to the committee members.
During the 90-minute meeting, it became clear that many of the nine committee members, as well as all nine community members in the audience, believe the dog problem in Great Bend goes beyond one specific breed of dog. In fact, at-large committee member RaShann Southard advised the members that the general issue of vicious dogs has needed to be addressed for a long time. As a side note, Mr. Southard contacted me via e-mail to advise that it was his hope to work with fellow committee members on developing a breed-neutral vicious dog ordinance.
Another at-large committee member, Reggie Kern, advised it was not just a matter of canines, but a matter of irresponsible dog owners, and Bobbi King, director of the humane society, stressed the importance of basic obedience training and socialization of the animals.
The committee discussed better enforcement of existing vicious dog ordinances, more costly fines, new and stronger ordinances, and more funding for Golden Belt Humane Society operations.
The group also discussed with respect to pit bulls and dog, generally:
Licensing fees for and restrictions on breeding; stronger emphasis on spaying and neutering; the use of microchip tracking devices; rescue operations in which dogs are moved from shelter to shelter for adoptions; humane and effective containment of dogs; the use of tethering; and pit bulls being considered as family members.
Some of those in attendance also criticized law enforcement for its unwillingness to take dog complaints.
The committee next meets on Wednesday, June 19 at 6:00 p.m., at the City Council chambers, 1209 Williams. An evening time was selected to make it more accessible for citizens to attend and take part. City officials and committee members are encouraging as much public input as possible.
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