Kansas City Ends 29-Year Pit Bull Ban

Back in 1990, Kansas City, Kansas, enacted a pit bull ban that applied to American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and any dogs that happened to have the “appearance or characteristics” of these breeds.

Anyone who violated the ban could have their beloved dog taken away from them, be fined from $300 to $1,000 and spend up to 90 days in county jail.

Does this seem fair? It isn’t. The problem with pit bull bans and other forms of breed-specific legislation (BSL) is that they single out dogs based on their looks instead of their temperament or how their owners treat (or mistreat) them. BSL punishes well-behaved dogs and responsible dog owners by penalizing the entire breed.

Because BSL is so unfair and has not proven to increase public safety wherever it’s been enacted, most major animal welfare groups opposed it, including the Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, American Veterinary Medical Association and many others.

Fortunately, after 29 years, the Unified Government’s Board of Commissioners†did the right thing and voted six to three on†May 30†to end the pit bull ban in Kansas City and Wyandotte County, effective immediately.

Most of the people attending the packed commission meeting spoke out in favor of ending the ban, with the exception of three people. They were relatives and acquaintances of Jimmie Mae McConnell, who was attacked and killed in her garden by her neighbor’s†pit bull in 2006. This was indeed a tragedy, but why punish all other pit bulls and dogs that look like pit bulls for what one dog did?

That’s just what happened after McConnell’s death: Kansas City’s pit bull ban became more strictly enforced. Nearly 150 of these dogs that had been living illegally in the city — many of them probably in loving homes and causing no problems whatsoever — were confiscated. The city killed most of the confiscated dogs.

Not only are breed bans ridiculously unfair, as the deaths of all those innocent dogs illustrate all too sadly, but, as Kansas City discovered, they are ridiculously expensive to enforce. The animal services department told the commission it spends $246,000, which is†almost a quarter of its $1 million budget, on breed-specific services. That money would be put to much better use, as Animal Services Director Jennifer Stewart pointed out, on improving animal shelters and adding more staff, including an adoption coordinator.

Besides, Wyandotte County enacted a dangerous dogs ordinance in 2014 that applies to all breeds, so a pit bull-specific ban in Kansas City wasn’t even necessary. Under the ordinance, owners that have a dangerous or vicious dog — of any breed or mix — may have to pay fines up to $1,000 and may spend up to 180 days in jail. The owner may have to surrender the dog and, in the worst cases, the dog may be euthanized.

Banning pit bulls was “a waste of valuable income and time and quite frankly a strain on our community,” Kate Fields, president of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, told the commission.

One commissioner who voted to end the ban agreed it took resources away from more effective solutions, such as leash laws and ordinances based on behavior, not breed.

It’s encouraging news for everyone who believes that we should judge dogs by their behavior — and not punish them for how they happen to look — that Kansas City has ended its longtime pit bull ban. Just one month†earlier, the residents of Liberty, a suburb of the city, voted to end its 40-year-long ban. In a growing trend since 2008, 23 Kansas cities have lifted their bans.

Despite this progress, and despite the fact that pit bull bans are unfair and ineffective, Denver continues to enforce its 30-year-old ban. It seems like a city in the state that was one of the first in the U.S. to legalize the recreational use of cannabis would be progressive enough to†end its pit bull ban. Here’s hoping Denver wakes up and soon becomes the next city to stop enforcing BSL.

Take Action

If you agree that†BSL does more harm than good, sign and share the petition asking Denver to end its decades-long pit bull ban.

If you want†to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youíll find Care2ís vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

94 comments

Leanne K
Leanne K1 days ago

Happy world sea turtle day everyone, June 16

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Leanne K
Leanne K1 days ago

And watch every idiot get one

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Leanne K
Leanne K1 days ago

This will be a boom for breeders. Isn't it time the world introduced compulsory desexing of companion animals. Too many animals die for want of a home

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Paulo R
Paulo Reeson3 days ago

wonderful news for this misunderstood breed and all the Pit lovers.

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Peter B
Peter B6 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Olivia H
Olivia H6 days ago

thanks for posting

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Beverly D
Beverly D7 days ago

Signed & Shared petition!

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Angeles Madrazo
Angeles M7 days ago

Great news. Petition signed! Thank you

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Beverly D
Beverly D7 days ago

Thanks, and comments, God bless~

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Ann B
Ann B7 days ago

PEOPLE make dogs mean they DON'T start out that way good the ban was lifted

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