An online petition to lift the ban on pit bulls in Salina has more than 83,000 signatures, according to petition website Care2.
The petition also asks that the city of Salina free Lyha, a blue pit bull who was taken away by Salina Animal Services after she escaped from her owner’s yard.
Lyha’s three puppies were also taken by animal control, wrote Joshua Allen, Lyha’s owner, who started the petition.
Salina Animal Services is a no-kill shelter, something that applies to pit bulls too, said Vanessa Cowie, animal services manager.
Allen said in the petition that he adopted Lyha about one year ago. He nursed her through health issues, he said, and then found that Lyha helped him through “a deep stage of depression.”
“She has grown into a wonderful dog that's been raised in a caring and loving environment,” Allen wrote in the petition.
Allen could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
The city of Salina bans possession of pit bulls within city limits, unless the dog was already registered with the city when the ban was set.
Cowie said that in the past 12 months there have been 35 individual charges of people violating that code, some charges involving multiple dogs.
She said she couldn’t speak about the circumstances regarding Lyha, since it was part of an ongoing court case.
“He loves his dog,” Cowie said about Allen. “He visits all the time. He brings her toys.”
When a suspected pit bull is brought in, Animal Services assesses whether it is a pit bull using a 32-point scale. Anything over 23 points is usually prosecuted, Cowie said.
Owning a pit bull in city limits is a misdemeanor and usually carries a $100-200 fine.
While the case is ongoing, Animal Services usually lets the dog’s owner hand it over to someone who lives outside of Salina. If the owner violates that and brings the dog back into Salina, then Animal Services keeps the dog until the case is closed.
If the dog is found to be a pit bull, then Animal Services will transfer it to a place where pit bulls are allowed, Cowie said.
The ban was first passed in 2004, according to a Salina Journal opinion piece defending the ban. The article describes a long list of attacks by pit bulls on people and other dogs.
Breed-specific legislation is highly controversial and are opposed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The ASPCA says there is no evidence that these laws increase safety.
The National Animal Care and Control Association also opposes such bans, saying that animals should be labeled as dangerous “as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.”
“Lyha is a loving dog who has never shown any aggression ever, she loves kids an is always happy to meet people,” Allen wrote. “She saved my life, please help me save hers.”