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July 19, 2016

Richmond Council deletes pit bull language in ordinances

An ordinance prohibiting Richmond residents from owning pit bulls is history.

Instead, existing ordinances covering any vicious dog, without naming a specific breed, is now deemed sufficient to include pit bulls, once singled out as a dangerous breed.

The Richmond City Council on July 12 voted to strike from city ordinances all references to pit bulls. City officials had been considering the change and took action after area residents spoke at the June 14 council meeting and advocated for the change. Ordinance Committee Chairperson Deanna Guy said other existing ordinances cover all dangerous, vicious or problem dogs. The modified ordinance also alters impoundment procedures. Previously, any animal not claimed by its owner within five working days became the property of the city and was placed for adoption or humanely euthanized. That timeframe is now one week. The ordinance also says that any animals that go unclaimed for that week will be held an additional three days and may be adopted during that time. To adopt any such animal, a person would pay costs incurred for caring for the animal and must have it vaccinated, neutered and licensed. The council voted 5-0 for the ordinance. In other business, the council supported Mayor Mike Wright’s appointment of Zachary Taylor to serve as city prosecutor on a 90-day interim basis. He replaces John Newberry, who resigned after serving since 1999 as city prosecutor. The council also approved the appointment of Darrin Daniel to the Richmond Park Board. Both votes were 5-0. In his report to the council, City Administrator Ron Brohammer said he has been holding budget planning meetings with department directors. Revenue projections for the coming fiscal year are similar to this year’s figures, he said. Brohammer also suggested that Richmond take advantage of an opportunity to participate in efforts to support tourism along Missouri Highway 36. Plans call for promotions for an area north and south of the highway, and Richmond is within that area. He also noted that the bridge on Missouri Highway 13 south of Kingston is to be replaced. The project was delayed because swallows nested under the existing bridge, he said. Work could take six months or longer if weather hampers progress. The official detour is about 20 miles long, he reported. Brohammer also said that Richmond Pastor Justin Meier will among citizens honored at the West Regional Missouri Municipal League Citizens Recognition Banquet Thursday, July 21, in Blue Springs. – Sara Seidel/Richmond News

April 18, 2016

Shawnee Removes Breed Ban

Tonight, the City Council of Shawnee, KS (population 65,323)  voted unanimously to repeal it's long-standing ban on pit bull-like dogs. Shawnee has become  the 19th city in Kansas to repeal its ban on pit bulls in just the past 8 years and the 17th since 2010. 

Shawnee, a quiet suburb of Kansas City, was one of the earlier cities in the country to pass a ban on pit bulls -- back in 1985. So for 31 years, as the city has grown, pit bulls and their owners have not been welcome. 

However, that has all changed. 

And the reasons for the change can be seen in a  memorandum (starting on page 155) from Captain Ben Mendoza, Special Operations Bureau Commander in his letter to the City Manager with his reasoning for wanting the repeal. 

" The pit bull prohibition was enforced successfully for many years, however over time it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish whether a dog is a specific pit bull breed. Additionally, trends in animal control enforcement have moved from differentiating an animal's propensity to aggressive behavior based on breed alone, to establishing a consistent response to all aggressive acts by any animal."

Captain Mendoza goes on to explain that in 1996 and again in 2007, the city passed behavior-based laws that specifically gave officers the ability to address animals that exhibit aggressive or harmful behavior. 

Mendoza continues:

"Depending on conditions, any breed of dog may bite, no matter how well-bred, well-trained, or well-loved the animal is. Another important reason to make this change is the need to emphasize owner accountability rather than sole emphasis being placed on the animal. The owner, environment and manner in which the dog is raised can mold the dog into an aggressive animal, regardless of the breed. Eliminating the prohibition of pit bulls and using Dangerous Animal enforcement will provide for a consistent response to all animals who exhibit aggressive behavior. The SMC includes a number of enforceable restrictions for both Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous animals."

After some further explanation of the dangerous dog provisions, Mendoza notes that Shawnee is not alone in its desire to repeal breed-specific legislation:

"Currently 19 different states have passed laws prohibiting county or municipal breed specific legislation, and Missouri is one of the most recent to begin discussions on the topic. Kansas state law does not currently contain breed specific language and applies to any animal deemed dangerous. Of the 20 cities in Johnson County, Shawnee is currently one of four with a breed-specific ordinance.....Spring Hill (2014) and Roeland Park (2015) are the most recent cities in Johnson County to lift their ban on specific breeds."

Now the number of Johnson County cities with breed-specific laws is just three.

There was no opposition to the change. Two people testified in favor (one was a business owner of a canine service industry who's business was negatively impacted by the law), and many more people in the room were there to testify in favor of the change.  Several city council members spoke in support of the law and noted that the time for the change was way past due. 

Agreed. 

Congrats to the community of Shawnee and for others that are making the decision to repeal old breed-specific laws and put the emphasis on canine and owner behavior.