At its meeting last night, the Village of Waunakee Board of Trustees voted unanimously to repeal the breed specific language in its animal control ordinance. The ordinance, which was passed in the mid-1980’s, banned pit bulls from the town.
This issue was brought before the Board in early September, after resident Kelly Lappen was notified by police that she had twenty days to remove her dog, Clay, from the city limits because of an ordinance prohibiting residents from owning “pit bulls.”
Lappen launched a legal challenge of Waunakee’s pit bull ordinance, and that action prompted the Board to review its code.
Among the revisions, the new ordinance gives police more discretion in dealing with vicious animals overall. The old code limited police to only look at the past year of a pet’s bad behavior when considering a punishment for the owner. The new ordinance allows them to consider the animal’s entire history of “vicious” acts.
In addition, officers can now respond to a dangerous pet anywhere, while the owner’s property was not included in the old rules. City officials believe this will widen the spectrum to approach vicious dogs, regardless of breed, and remove some other limitations that otherwise hindered their ability to enforce their vicious dog ordinance in the past.
Even though Board President John Laubmeier called pit bulls “evil” during the meeting, he stated he could not find any research indicating that a pit bull ban has reduced the number of people hurt or killed in any jurisdiction.
Laubmeier also acknowledged that veterinarians and law organizations advise against breed-specific legislation, and instead support focusing on an individual dog’s behavior and actions.
Finally, Laubmeier, along with the rest of the Board, expressed great concern with respect to the difficulty of breed identification.
The new, breed-neutral animal control ordinance goes into effect next week.
Congratulations to Kelly Lappen for standing up for what she believes in and being the catalyst of positive change in Waunakee, and to the Village officials for enacting an ordinance that will benefit the entire community – people and animals alike.