Kansas City, Mo. A number of animal shelters are urging communities in the Kansas City area to reconsider banning pit bulls, instead calling for stronger and better-enforced dangerous-dog laws.
Wayside Waifs and the Humane Society of Kansas City joined Animal Haven and No More Homeless Pets-KC on Thursday in backing an alternative adopted by the Kansas City Council, which will require pit bulls be spayed or neutered unless an owner obtains a breeder's license.
"It's a step in the right direction," Human Society President Charles Vreeland said.
Vreeland said a recent attack in Kansas City, Kan., where a pit bull ban was in effect when a dog killed a 71-year-old woman while she was gardening, proves that breed-wide bans are ineffective.
Such bans have also been enacted in Liberty, Mo., Grandview, Mo., and Overland Park, Kan. Several other communities are also reviewing their animal ordinances.
"Breed-specific bans target an entire phenotype in order to eliminate a handful of animals that have been poorly socialized under irresponsible ownership," said Wayside Waifs President Patti Glass.
"Instead, the jurisdiction could adopt a more dynamic strategy against dog bites by passing a stronger dangerous-dog law and creating special restrictions for dangerous-dog owners."
Glass said banning pit bulls will not prevent irresponsible people from turning to other powerful breeds or simply ignoring the law.
She also said pit bull bans are difficult to enforce because several breeds are lumped together, including the American Staffordshire Terrier, English Staffordshires and bull terriers. Collectively, Glass said pit bulls are mischaracterized as aggressors despite temperament tests that rank them ahead of beagles, bearded collies and dachshunds in friendliness.
Gail Longstaff, president of No More Homeless Pets-KC, said as many as 75 percent of dog bites and 94 percent of fatal dog bites are by non-neutered males.
She also said No More Homeless Pets-KC is providing services for residents who want to get their pit bull fixed.