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City should hold off on seizure of pit bulls

City should hold off on seizure of pit bulls

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Due to poor management of the issue by City Councils past and present, our community's emotional vicious dog odyssey continues two years after it began. Today we appear to have reached a troubling point of potential ugliness, if not danger in this still-unresolved debate.

Soon, police and Animal Control officers will be given the unenviable task of seizing for euthanization pit bulls owned by residents who have not complied with rules for registration and licensing under the city's pit bull ordinance. That, despite the fact the council continues to talk about changes to the city's pit bill and vicious animal ordinances, including the possibility of a repeal of the pit bull ban. Three council members, in fact, have indicated they are open to repeal.

Before the city unnecessarily crosses a line it later wishes it hadn't, we suggest one last pause. Why risk confrontations by putting law enforcement officers in the unpleasant and perhaps dangerous position of seizing an angry citizen's pit bull today if the council may make changes to these ordinances, possibly including an end to the pit bull ban, tomorrow?

We were opposed to a ban on this specific breed of dog from the beginning, but the ban passed. Under the law, owners of pit bulls were required to register and license their animals with the city last year and to have the registration and license renewed this year. Under the ordinance, failure to do that results in those pit bulls being seized and euthanized. On Wednesday, the Journal's Lynn Zerschling reported the registration and license of more than 100 pit bulls were not renewed by the March 31 deadline.

Yes, some citizens are in violation of the law in place today, but precedent for flexibility within the law already exists because the registration and license renewal deadline was, in fact, extended once, from March 1 to March 31. We believe the demonstration of additional flexibility is warranted.

Given the potential for trouble presented by the seizure of pit bulls, we see no harm at this point in waiting on enforcement until the council makes final decisions on changes to the pit bull and vicious animal ordinances. Future seizure of some animals may be unavoidable, but the city should seek to avoid confrontations to the extent it can.

Finally, it's essential for council members to stop dragging their feet on changes to the ordinances. They need to put the subject on Monday's agenda and make up their minds, once and for all.


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