If a person can’t judge a book by the cover, can they judge a dog by its breed?
For municipalities with breed specific legislation, the law does believe the regulation and/or banning of certain dog breeds — like pit bulls and rottweilers — can decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
In Abilene, the ordinance prohibited ownership of pit bulls in the city limits — except already registered pit bulls — was adopted by the city commission on October 9, 2017. According to an article in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle at the time, the decision to change the city laws came after the Interim City Manager and City Attorney Mark Guilfoyle found the code prohibiting certain animals was missing in the city’s code.
The city code did contain an ordinance that prohibited ownership of domestic livestock or fowl, cattle, swine, horses, mules, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys in city limits. The new ordinance also banned any warm-blooded, carnivorous or omnivorous wild or exotic animals including nonhuman primates, raccoons, skunks, foxes, wildcats, any animal with a poisonous bite and any pit bull dog.
Now with many municipalities amending their city code to erase the dog breed specific bans, like Overland Park who repealed it on September 28, the city commission started the discussion of changing the ordinance.
The topic of changing the city’s pit bull ban came from an email sent to the commissioners, which Commissioner Trevor Witt asked to put on the study session agenda.
The commission heard from local business owner and certified dog trainer Emily Quiles who asked the commissioners and city employees to pick out pit bulls out of a line-up of dogs. In the end, the commission decided to ask the city to continue their research and evaluation of a new ordinance and they will be proposed to the commission during the second meeting in December.
City Manager Ron Marsh found the most difficult aspect of creating a new ordinance comes from definitions and terms.
“We have to be careful when we use the term animal,” Marsh said. “Because of our regulation, our code right now defines animal, dog and cat.”
He added that there wasn’t any ambiguity.
“So there’s no ambiguity,” Marsh said. “We want to be able to definitely go in and if an owner, if there’s a vicious dog or if there’s a threatening dog, then we can deal with it in a timely and efficient manner.”
The ordinance should create a vicious dog ban and define a “reckless owner” for future needs in the community.