Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wichita Considers Tougher Pit Bull Regulations

On Tuesday morning, the city council appeared to not have enough support to move forward with a comprehensive pit bull ban in Wichita. But a majority of council members would like to see tougher restictions on the breed.

Last year pit bulls accounted for more than half of all dangerous dogs in Wichita and were responsible for more than a third of all dog attacks and bites. Almost a third of all dogs found running loose are pit bulls.

Those statistics plus people's complaints are what led city council members to take a second look at banning the breed Tuesday morning.

But a majority of the council doesn't think an outright ban will actually fix the problem.

"The problem isn't going to go away because the owner is just going to buy a different kind of dog. They can't buy a pit bull okay they'll get a rottweiler or a german shephard," said Council Member Paul Gray.

It's just what a handful of pit bull opponents wanted to hear. The group showed up at the council's workshop along with the dog in the middle of the debate.

"I think they should take action on the irresponsible pit bull owners instead of the breed itself," said pit bull ban opponent Damian Metcalf.

The council considered the same type of ban when it toughened up the city's dangerous dog ordinance in 2007 but decided to wait and see how the new law would work.

Since then the number of dog incidents has gone down but pit bulls still remain the largest part of the problem that remains.

That's why the council will now look at strenthening pit bull laws. Options include limiting how many of the dogs people can own and mandatory microchipping.

"There's still a problem with one specific breed and we haven't addressed it yet so I hope we can strengthen our ordinance," said Council Member Jeff Longwell.

Staff will come back to the council in a few months with a final recommendation.

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