A proposed ordinance would ban new pit bulls and require existing pit bulls -- and any other "dangerous dogs" -- be injected with identification microchips and kept in locked pens.
Lawrence's standing as a "safe harbor" for dangerous dogs and their owners could be coming to an end.
Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners will consider an ordinance that would prohibit any new pit bulls from coming to town, plus place new rules on existing pit bulls and other dogs considered dangerous.
"You can consider it as a ban, but it's not a ban on current ones," said David Corliss, the city's director of legal services. "It is a ban on new ones.
"We have received information that Lawrence is considered a 'safe harbor' (for pit bulls and their breeding as attack dogs), and we don't think that's a good direction to go."
The proposed ordinance -- up for review during Tuesday's 6:45 p.m. meeting at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts -- comes after Lola, a Yorkshire terrier, was killed by a pit bull May 18 outside 611 Ill.
Concerned neighbors and others complained to commissioners, who then told staffers to come up with new rules for regulating vicious dogs -- and fast.
After two days of legal research and writing, here is what Corliss and others have proposed:
- New pit bulls -- breeds including Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire bull terrier or American pit bull terrier -- would be banned from Lawrence after a specific date, yet to be determined.
- Any existing pit bull, Tundra shepherd or other wolf hybrid -- plus any other dog "having a disposition or propensity to attack or bite any person or animal without provocation" -- would be considered a "dangerous dog," and allowed to remain in Lawrence only if its owners meet certain requirements. Among them: post a "Beware of Dog" sign on the premises, register the dog with the city, maintain liability insurance, and keep it inside or in a locked kennel or pen unless attached on a leash no more than 4 feet long.
- Any "dangerous dog" would have to be licensed by the city. The dog's owner would be required to give the city two color photos of the dog and allow the Lawrence Humane Society to insert an embedded microchip into the dog to help officials track its identity and ownership.
Permits would cost $25. Any puppies born to an existing, registered pit bull would be allowed to remain in town, provided they were registered within six weeks of their birth.
The proposed ordinance -- modeled after similar rules in Topeka, Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee and Overland Park -- is designed to address public safety concerns, not punish people who properly train and care for their dogs, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.
"Having a dangerous dog is not a crime," Wildgen said. "Having a dangerous dog and not following the rules would be."
Fines would range from $200 to $1,000 for each offense, plus up to 30 days in jail for the owner. A second offense would automatically revoke the dog's ownership, and require that the dog either be removed from the city or destroyed.
A copy of the proposed ordinance is available for public review at the reference desk at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. Internet users can find the proposal on the Journal-World's Web site, www.ljworld.com.
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dangerous Dog Ordinance