In early September, Kelly Lappen and her husband were notified by police that they had twenty days to remove their dog, Clay, from the city limits because of an ordinance prohibiting residents from owning “pit bulls.”
Section 14-3 of the Waunakee code states that “no person shall own, harbor or keep within the village any dog of the breed Staffordshire terrier, or any other dog known as a pit bull terrier.”
The ordinance was passed several years ago and, according to police, it is not enforced unless there is a complaint. With the admitted lax enforcement, the Lappens didn’t realize that having a pit bull-type dog violated a city ordinance.
The Lappens have now launched a legal challenge of Waunakee’s pit bull ordinance, and this action has prompted the Village Board to review its code. The Board met in a closed session October 7, 2013 to discuss its strategy regarding the potential suit.
An attorney representing the family indicated they would be challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. The Lappens contacted the Lexus Project Legal Defense for Dogs hoping to raise funds for court costs.
According to the village administrator, legal counsel has advised that the village has a reasonable defense under current case law, but that the village could revise the ordinance to remove the breed specific language “to more effectively protect the public.”
The board is exploring the matter further, and it is expected to be discussed at the November 4, 2013 meeting.
Please reach out to the village officials and politely and respectfully encourage them to move the city forward and repeal the outdated and unenforced breed specific provision in their ordinance. Letters can be sent to the Village Clerk, Julee Helt, with a polite request to forward to each of the Village Trustees.