Yakima, WA: City council to discuss possible repeal of 26-year-old pit bull ban on December 3

The city council of Yakima, Washington will review the newly submitted information related to repealing its failing 26-year-old pit bull ban during its meeting on Tuesday, December 3 at 6:00 p.m.  Those making their arguments both for and against repeal will be making their last argument before council decides on the future of the ban.

The City Council put off discussion of the pit bull ban and dangerous dogs law after supporters and opponents presented testimony and hundreds of pages of information at their November 12, 2013 study session. You can access the voluminous material that was discussed at the study session here.

The city’s breed specific ordinance specifically bans bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers, as well as dogs with any “identifiable” pit bull variety as an element of their breeding. Determination of breed is based on a combination of factors, including the build of the animal’s chest, the shape of its head, the length of its tail, the way its ears lay and its muscular build.

The city is also considering making changes to its dangerous dog ordinance, which establishes containment requirements, maintaining liability insurance, registration and other public awareness requirements for owners when their dog has earned the designation of “dangerous” by their actions and behavior.

Those opposed to the city’s breed ban are asking the council to eliminate the breed specific provision of the law and allow pit bulls to be judged as “dangerous” if they meet the criteria under the dangerous dog law – just like any other dog in Yakima.

In a memo to the council, Code Enforcement Manager Joe Caruso disagrees with allowing pit bulls to fall under the generic dangerous dog ordinance.  Caruso argues that doing so would “undo the pre-emptive intent of the pit bull ban,” because the dangerous dog ordinance only goes into effect after the dog bites someone.  As it stands now, pit bulls are condemned as guilty, deemed dangerous, and afforded no opportunity to prove themselves otherwise, and their owners are subjected to costly restrictions and the perceived stigma associated with having a “dangerous” animal when, in reality,  their dog has done nothing to deserve such a designation.

Both the city’s Code Enforcement and the Police Patrolman’s Association want the ban to stay in place.  However, knowing it could be lifted, they have recommended specific requirements in order for owners of pit bulls to keep their dogs, including maintaining a liability insurance policy, confinement and kenneling requirements, and muzzling the dogs while off the owner’s property.

Please try to attend Tuesday’s meeting and encourage city officials to repeal the city’s breed ban and judge ALL dogs on their behavior, despite their breed, under the generic dangerous dog ordinance.  The council meeting begins at 6:00 p.m., and will take place at Council Chambers, Yakima City Hall, 129 North Second Street.  

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