Seward County, Kansas May Consider Repeal of 20-Year Old “Pit Bull” Ban

By Editor
In Breed-Specific Legislation
Mar 25th, 2011
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Editor’s note: It is unfortunate that there is so much disinformation out there.  City councils and city attorneys are repeatedly misinformed by those with an agenda about the supposed effectiveness and constitutionality of breed-specific legislation (BSL).  The constant stream of repealed BSL nationally and internationally of late illustrates the ineffectiveness of BSL, and when a case against BSL is tried properly and the court is not a kangaroo court, BSL is often found to be unconstitutional.  And, as we so often say here, “pit bull” is not a breed.  As such, statistics that lump together the countless breeds mislabeled “pit bull” are greatly skewed and therefore meaningless.

Please contact the Seward County Commission here and politely inform them that BSL is ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional.

From the Leader & Times:

In February, the Seward County Commission passed a resolution banning the possession of pit bulls in the county. That resolution came 20 years after an original one was passed in 1991.

In the 1991 ordinance was included a grandfather clause that would allow pit bulls in the county to stay in the county, but none could be raised after that.

Monday, after a half hour discussion, the commission voted to revisit the resolution it passed in February. The talk began when county resident Gerald Valentine, who breeds pit bulls, asked the board if the new ordinance could include a grandfather clause similar to the one in the 1991 resolution, which was repealed through the  current law. 

Commission chairman Jim Rice said he had a problem with allowing such a clause because it would allow other people to have dogs as well.

“If we permit one, there are no doubt other pit bull owners in the county, and they’re going to be wanting the same treatment you have got,” he said. “I think they would deserve that. As a result of that, it would defuse the rules and regulations that the present resolution has. It was designed not to permit pit bulls in the county. If we allow one, we’re going to have to allow them all, and we’re going to be back to where we were originally.”

Valentine said he believes no one else still has dogs from 1991. Rice said findings from county counsel Dan Diepenbrock indicate the 1991 ordinance was intended for dogs rather than owners.

Commissioner Doug LaFreniere strongly suggested the board revisit the current resolution.

“I really struggle with breed. I think a dangerous dog ordinance, and I know Mr. Diepenbrock has stated it’s unenforceable as a dangerous dog ordinance, but I think we can,” he said. “This resolution just states a breed, and I think that’s the wrong thing to do.”

Valentine said there are good and bad dogs in all breeds.

“It’s not really the dog as much as it is the owner,” he said. “In 20 years, my record is spotless – not a complaint. I think that’s a good record. I think responsible ownership is what we need to look at instead of the dog.”

…Diepenbrock said the board has a couple of choices.

“The one option you can do is just repeal the resolution, and pit bulls are legal in Seward County,” he said. “Another option would be to add another grandfather clause to the resolution you adopted resolution that would grandfather the dogs and not the owner. Any dogs that would be alive at the time the grandfather clause is adopted could stay in Seward County, but you wouldn’t be permitted to continue to breed.”

Wettstein said if Valentine is allowed to keep his dogs, his breeding operation would need to be shut down. Valentine agreed with LaFreniere saying the only fair law would be one for vicious dogs.

Diepenbrock said the reason the 1991 resolution was passed was that research showed more pit bulls were involved in bites, fatal attacks and injury attacks than any other breed.

“They looked at total number of deaths or dog bites or injuries nationwide,” he said. “There were all kinds of dogs involved, but pit bulls, statistically, were the ones that were most likely to be involved in those.”

Diepenbrock said if a repeal of the current law is the decision of the commission, it should be done carefully and include much research. He said many communities have passed similar resolutions, and those have been attacked throughout the country.

…Diepenbrock said the 1991 ordinance, including the grandfather clause, was crafted well, but county clerk Stacia Long strongly disagreed.

“Why are we here if it was well-crafted Dan?” she said. “We’re here because we have to address a resolution that was passed 20 years ago that apparently wasn’t well drafted.”

“It was in my opinion,” Diepenbrock said. “The confusion was the grandfather clause that the sheriff said people didn’t understand as Mr. Valentine didn’t, but it is clear.”

Sheriff Bill McBryde said the commission should revisit the resolution and either give a “yes” or “no” on keeping it in place.

“I don’t think you can grandfather because you can’t keep up with those dogs,” he said. “You don’t know who has what dog.”

The board voted 4-1, with Linenbroker voting against, to revisit the resolution. Wettstein suggested the commission make a decision one way or the other as soon as the next meeting on April 4.

Read this article in its entirety here.

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