Waunakee, Wisconsin Reverses Pit Bull Ban

Last month, Waunakee, Wisconsin decided to revisit their long-standing pit bull ban after Waunakee resident Kelly Lappen was cited for harboring a banned breed and Lappen considered legal action against the city.   Monday night, November 4, 2013, Waunakee’s village trustees unanimously decided to remove the circa 1988 breed-specific legislation (BSL) pertaining to so-called pit bulls, opting to add dangerous dog provisions instead.   Waunakee’s new animal ordinance will go into effect next week.  

While this is of course a victory for dog lovers and community safety, there is still a tinge of the bittersweet since Village Board President John Laubmeier was heard to have called pit bulls evil during Monday nights meeting.   Yet even he could not find any research that proved that pit bull bans reduce the number of people hurt or killed in any city or county.   Laubmeier added that

. . . professional veterinarians and law organizations advise against breed-specific language in an ordinance. He noted there is more than one dangerous type of dog, and he felt the need lies in addressing behavior instead of breed.

I would add that it’s not pit bulls that are evil; it is the owners who ill-use pit bulls, abuse them, fight them, or leave them permanently chained in backyards and basements who are evil.   That’s why BSL is not recommended by veterinarians or law-enforcement organizations.  

Another reason BSL is ill-advised is that, as Village Administrator Todd Schmidt noted, there is “concern with enforcing the ban on pit bulls, especially with proving what dog is what breed.”   Schmidt went on to say that,

It looks like a pit bull. Is it a pit bull? And then you start talking about DNA testing, and to what extent of a breed existing within that DNA qualifies it as a pit bull? Is it a majority of the breed? Is it a 50 percent or more? Schmidt said. It gets tricky to pull off that enforcement.

It’s not just tricky.   It’s downright impossible, which is why dog bite rates tend to go up in cities with BSL.   Animal Control spends so much time trying to figure out what is and what is not a pit bull as defined by their own ordinance, that often other irresponsible owners of other breeds fall through the cracks.  

So congratulations to Kelly Lappen and the city of Waunakee for working together to remove what wasn’t working, BSL, and replace it with legislation that will hopefully give law enforcement more effective policing of irresponsible dog owners.  


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3 responses to “Waunakee, Wisconsin Reverses Pit Bull Ban”

  1. It’s about time people start using their heads. Now let’s het all states to follow the same thing. Congrats to Kelly. You are a blessing.

    • Pit bulls will be as loving and docile as any breed, and wonderful members of a family – small children or not. Who gave pit bulls a bad reputation and turned them into “vicious dogs?” You said it loud and clear – the irresponsible, psychologically troubled – downright evil – and uneducated owners.

      Not only is it a good administrative decision, it is also a humanitarian statement.

      Congratulations to all involved.

      The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
      • Mahatma Gandhi

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