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Wichita altering pit-bull ordinance

The Wichita City Council today tweaked pit-bulldog control regulations  that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

The major provisions of the new ordinance:

– Require pit-bull owners to sterilize their dogs.

– Require a breeder’s license if an owner wants to keep more than two pit bulls.

– Require pit bulls to be implanted with an identifying electronic microchip.

Today, the council carved out an exemption to the sterilization requirement for current pit-bull owners who show their dogs in legitimate dog shows.

Environmental Services  Director Kay Johnson  said the  organizations that regulate  dog shows require that the dogs in competition be unaltered and unsterilized.

The council also dropped its own ban on dogfighting, which the city could only prosecute as a misdemeanor. Prosecution will now default to state law, which treats staging dog fights as a felony offense.

Another change will  require that owners of dogs that are deemed as “dangerous” will have to post a bond with the city if they appeal the ruling.

City statistics show that out of 9,546 dog complaints so far this year, 2,267 have involved pit bulls.

Of the cases the city investigated, 40 percent of dog attack complaints involved pit bulls. Eighty-four percent of the dogs deemed by the city to be dangerous are pit bulls, the records show.

Johnson told the council that in every case this year where police had to shoot a dog, the dog was a pit bull.

That prompted council member Paul Gray to accuse Johnson of distorting the statistics to justify the breed-specific regulations.

He noted that encounters between pit bulls and police had dropped from 22 in 2008 to 13 this year.

“We continue to talk about this topic every year,” Gray said. “I’m just counting the days ’til you just come to us and say ‘we want a full pit-bull ban.”

Of the dogs themselves, he said “I don’t think the threat is as great as the hype.”

Council member Jim Skelton was having none of it.

“When I look at a paper and see somebody’s baby got its face bit off, it’s a pit bull,” he said.

The changes to the ordinance passed 6-1 with only Gray in opposition.

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