Bonner Springs, Kansas Forms Task Force; May Change Breed-Specific Ordinance

Bonner Springs, Kansas, has formed a task force to look into changing their breed-specific ordinance after resident Debi Baker was given 15 days to remove her Staffordshire Bull Terrier “Titan” from the city.   Baker and her family adopted Titan not knowing he was predominantly a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.   The city’s Animal Control Officer told Baker that her dog “resembled a pit bull,” a “breed” disallowed by Bonner Springs (although, as we so often say here, “pit bull” is not a breed).  

According to The Chieftain,

…Baker went to the Bonner Springs City Council last month to ask them to change their ordinances to ban dogs based on behavior, not breed, to protect the community from all dangerous dogs. After reviewing the matter, the council agreed and last week assigned a task force to study the issue over the next month.

…city staff reported that Bonners law was put into place at a time when several area cities, like Kansas City, Mo., made the decision to outlaw breeds considered dangerous. They noted reports that pit bulls are responsible for a majority of dog bites reported in the country.

Now isn’t it interesting that Bonner Springs does not consider the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a “pit bull breed” even though most other ordinances define Staffy Bulls as “pit bulls,” which should illustrate why breed-specific legislation is both arbitrary and archaic.   Indeed, breed-specific legislation is often vague with not only the city’s residents not knowing how to comply with the law, but the city itself often unsure of how to enforce it!  

And the city’s inability itself to define precisely what is and what is not a so-called “pit bull” should illustrate why statistics on “pit bulls” are completely skewed and therefore meaningless.   To put that another way, when ACOs, eyewitnesses, and the media define countless breeds of dogs, their mixes, and lookalikes as “pit bulls,” then of course statistics on so-called “pit bulls” are going to account for a large portion of dog bite stats.   They include countless breeds of dogs, mixes, and lookalikes!   For instance, if you mix five different breeds together and then call them a Labrador (in other words defining five different breeds, their mixes, and lookalikes as if it were one breed), you’ll likewise find dog bite stats on so-called “Labradors” will shoot through the roof!  

Similarly, that’s why even the CDC itself has discredited its own stats.   The CDC has said their own stats are skewed because there is no such breed as a “pit bull-type dog”; such a moniker can include any number of actual breeds, mixes, and lookalikes.   The CDC further discredited its own stats by saying they were based on mere media accounts of dog attacks, which are notoriously inaccurate.   That’s why any statistics that define “pit bull” as if it were an actual breed are skewed and therefore worthless.   Yet municipalities continue to pass breed-specific legislation based on these false stats regardless.

Please join me therefore in applauding Bonner Springs efforts to revisit their breed-specific ordinance and discard what isn’t working — namely the breed-specific portion of their ordinance.   Going forward, let’s hope the task force looks at more progressive legislation like a dangerous dog (owner) law that puts the onus squarely on the owner with escalating fines and penalties, rather than on the breed of dog they happen to irresponsibly own.  

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