Yakima, WA: Pit bull ban stands (for now)

At the city council meeting on December 3, 2013, the Yakima, Washington city council voted to uphold its current pit bull ban, but they left the door open for future legislation.

The 6-to-1 vote followed a series of contentious exchanges involving council members and the audience.  Councilwoman Kathy Coffey cast the lone dissenting vote.

However, following a heated debate, the council then voted 5-to-2 to direct city staff to provide more information on how alternative pit bull ordinances have worked in other cities.

Councilwoman Sara Bristol took issue with the information the council received from city staff which was heavily skewed against pit bulls and in favor of keeping the ban.  As I noted in a previous post, the council packet for the November 12 study session contained a great deal of material, most of which taken straight from the dogsbite.org website, including extremely graphic pictures, a tactic used to play on emotions as opposed to reason.

Both Councilwomen Bristol and Coffey said the information packet provided to the council was inadequate, and they questioned the credibility of a website called Dogsbite.org, where Code Enforcement pulled much of the national statistics provided to the council.

In the end, the council voted to direct staff to provide further information on alternatives to an outright ban on pit bulls.

I’m disappointed that the city wasn’t honest in their efforts to provide accurate and factual material supporting any side of the issue.  Instead, they pulled information from a website maintained by a woman who claims to have been attacked by a “pit bull,” that tracks media reports, presenting this information as “facts” and “statistics.”

Finally, I would be doing a disservice to you if I didn’t point out that no compromise can be reached when the parties involved are disrespectful to each other, and in this case, it was both sides of the table.  I understand this is an extremely emotional debate, and compounding the issue is the insincerity and lack of good faith on the part of some city officials and staff, but  polite and respectful communications really is the only way to achieve the changes we seek.  This issue is going to come back up sometime in the future, and when it does, its better to enter those discussions on good terms with the other side.

So, while the ban stands in Yakima for now, alternatives…baby steps to slowly change the ban…are still possible.

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