The small town of White Pine, TN is considering repealing their long-standing pit bull ordinance which was enacted in 1988. An individual recently moved to White Pine with a dog that meets the physical characteristics of a “pit bull” as defined by the ordinance, unaware of the 26-year-old law, and was cited by police. That resident brought the issue of repeal to the city council.
Section 10-301 of the city code defines “pit bull dogs” as follows:
Pit Bull Dogs:
(1) The bull terrier breed of dog; and
(2) Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog; and
(3) The American pit bull terrier breed of dog; and
(4) The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog; and
(5) Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than above listed which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers; and
(6) Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier; and any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers; or a combination of any of these breeds.
I spoke with the Town Recorder yesterday, and prior to the formal move by the council to review the ordinance, city officials were already aware of the problems associated with the existing ordinance, specifically the difficulty of identifying what is or is not a pit bull dog.
Fortunately, the town’s police chief supports repealing the ban. He believes each case needs to be looked at individually, and that to “pinpoint a specific breed is not the right way to go.”
The city is researching new measures, and according to the Town Recorder, are leaning strongly toward deleting the breed specific language in their current ordinance, and relying on the breed-neutral vicious dog provision already on the books. That provision identifies dangerous dogs by their actions and behaviors, not their breed.
A study session to discuss this issue will be held in April.
White Pine is a very small town with less than 2,500 people residing there. Considering residents and city officials are working well together on this issue, in my opinion, outside intervention is not necessary at this time. Certainly if you live in or around White Pine, I encourage you to reach out to the city officials and let them know you support this move, and encourage them to repeal the 26-year-old ban and judge dogs on their individual behavior as opposed to their breed.